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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Did you hear the one about.....?

My guess is if you're talking about recently, probably not. I personally can't remember the last time someone told me a joke. I don't mean hearing a stand-up routine, or someone sharing a meme, I'm talking about a straight-up, old-fashioned, well-told tale from a regular person that ended with a punchline that made me laugh. 

The sad thing is that given our current life environment, of polarized politics, Covid-19, global warming, etc. etc., we probably could use a good joke now more than ever. And yet? silence.

"I'm having a shitty day. Tell me a joke."

This is not to say there isn't a constant stream of shared humor going on. Today's 'joke-telling' seems to have been replaced with 'meme-sharing'. And there's nothing wrong with that. Some of them are very witty......though, just like a corny or bad joke.......many are pretty lame as well. But that's how it goes. One person's knee-slapper is another's groaner. 

Call me 'old-fashioned' but while I enjoy a clever meme, I miss a well-told joke, and personally, seeing how texting and social media has thwarted actual human interaction, I see an increasing inability in people being able to provide their own entertainment, instead relying on sharing what others have done.  It's sad.

In my case, there could be several reasons my joke well has run dry. I am retired and no longer have access to that 'water-cooler' environment of the workplace. My current friends, and even my wife, are not gregarious raconteurs. A lot of my interaction IS online, so the substitution of meme for joke is to be expected. And perhaps, "PC  culture" has finally driven the nail into amateur joke-telling?

In the article here (LINK) from 2019, some comedians debate whether PC Culture has or has not affected comedy, and it's an interesting debate with opinions on both sides. But even still, the pressure on a professional comedian for consequences is not the same as the guy in a work, or nowadays even a social, environment. Could it be that people are just too gun shy to risk it?

Perhaps the reason for my lament is that I not only grew up in a time when joke-telling was pervasive, but I personally always felt that the ability to tell a joke in a social situation was a kind of social grace to be cultivated. As a father I sort of insisted that my kids learn at least ONE good joke and practice it until they could tell it well. For me, this was like learning how to order from a menu and how to properly tip. Naturally, if one was so inclined, they could amass a collection of jokes, and perhaps refine their various accents, like a good actor, to be able to deliver ethnic dialog convincingly. It is like the person who can attend a party and sit at the hosts' piano and play for the enviable talent that was cultivated in people for a long time. 

What happened to us? 

It would be hypocritical of me to write a post like this and not offer a joke to my readers. The following is one of my favorites and is an excellent example of  naughty but relatively clean humor that requires human interaction. The joke requires dialog with changing accents, and depends on gesture as well.......neither things easily conveyed in a meme and even here will require your imagination. It is an ethnic tale, but not one that disparages that ethnicity. The specificity of  the protagonist merely lends this case, Italian flavor no different than the basil and parmigiana cheese on his Sunday pasta. 

There was this Italian widower who was getting on in years and whose daughter was becoming increasingly concerned for him. But, he being stubbornly independent, the best she could do to keep an eye on him was have him over every Sunday for dinner. 

One Sunday he arrived for dinner and immediately the daughter noticed a black eye. "Poppa! What happened to your eye?"

(in heavy Italian accent and miming what he describes with exaggerated hand gestures) "Oh, you wouldn't believe! I'm a innocent. I go to a church like I always a do, and I want to sit in the front pew but it's full, so I sit in the next one and whenna da priest comes in, we all stand up, and I see that the lady in front a me, she hazza her dress stuck in her ass. So, I try to be nice and I pulla it out for her. Annna she hits me! I tell ya I don't know why she was a so mad, I just tryin' to help."

"Oh Poppa, you are always getting into trouble. I told you, you should stay with me so I can keep an eye on you."

But the old man insisted on keeping his independence and not being a burden and said not to worry and he'd be back every week for dinner. And as promised, he comes the following Sunday and THIS time his OTHER eye is blackened.

"OH poppa!" the daughter cries. "What happened THIS time?!"

"Oh you a not gonna believe! I'm a innocent. Today I go back to a da church, but again the front pew is full and I gotta sit in the next one. And AGAIN I notice the same lady from last week she is sittin in fronna me. The priest comes in and a we alla stand up. And AGAIN she has her dress stuck in her ass. But I don't a do nothin! The guy next to me, HE pulls it out!!!! Well, I know she a no like that, so I putta it back. (gesturing with an upturned hand hastily tucking a dress into a buttcrack.)


  1. My friend - Do you know any Latin

    Me - No, they stopped teaching Latin at my school, just after the end of World War eleven



    Don't come in, I'm masturbating


    1. As Little Richard would conclude, "I keep a-knockin' but I can't get in."

  3. It doesn't matter how many times I hear that joke it still makes me laugh !
    It's not the joke , it's the way it's told.
    Thanks for the laugh.

    1. You're welcome. I agree this is a great joke for someone willing to really deliver it with accents and gestures. It falls flat otherwise.

  4. I love the joke, and Prefectdt's jokes too.

    I get a steady stream of jokes from Ron, who passes them along from his friends. Some are really good, but many are whines about being old.


    1. Thanks. You are lucky. Maybe it's just my current life circumstances that have resulted in this joke-drought?

  5. (giggles)
    I think in today's atmosphere of sound bites, instant gratification and yes, memes, people don't have the patience to tell a joke, or to listen to one. It's a shame, really.
    Growing up in a comedy writer's household, I learned a lot about jokes and good timing. Oh, and I have a terrible weakness for puns. The cheesier the better.

    1. You had a good education in humor then. It is a shame how many people don't understand the science/art of comedy.

  6. the water cooler joke is dead. way to risky. in the days of understand your personal bias training and sexual harassment training you will get hauled to hr for the accents and gestures required for your joke.

    1. Though retired, I had a feeling this might be the case. I ended my career working in HR and even then one could see where things were heading. The problem with PC culture is that it's superficial. Real issues are never addressed in favor of minor annoyances being treated like catastrophes. And this is because the significant aspects of a worker being truly and profoundly fucked with are rarely from a fellow worker, but instead from corporate policies that benefit a CEO's pocket over the quality of life issues facing a worker. Oh.......but we'll make sure everyone speaks nicely around you.