Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tell me a joke.

What has four legs and an arm?

Let's explore humor in its most basic form, The Joke. We love 'em, we groan at 'em. I'm talking riddles, light bulbs, knock-knocks...those jokes that were passed around the playground, handed from generation to generation. There are classic jokes and jokes that ought to have died a quiet death at the first telling. (Answer: A Rottweiler. Har.)

I belong to a group of musicians who jam every other Tuesday. We take turns choosing a tune to play. Anyone who can't think of a tune has to tell a joke. Oh my. I've heard some tremendous jokes from this group. I have a few jokes in my arsenal but they usually go right out the window when it's my turn, and the ones I do remember? I've told them all. And it's an unwritten rule: you can't tell the same joke again, not even weeks later. Repeating it in dialect doesn't make it a new joke. (This is usually in faux Irish, because we play mostly Celtic stuff.)

How many folk musicians does it take to change a light bulb?

A Prairie Home Companion, on public radio, has an annual Joke Show. Two hours, nothing but jokes and very fine music. There's a great deal of humor on this program already, some of it unintended and spontaneous, but the Joke Show...well...you'll probably hear jokes you haven't heard in years. (Answer - Four. One to change the bulb and three to complain that it's electric.) The great thing about the Joke show is they've put all those jokes on a website and you can surf through them for hours, assuming you'd want to. You can add a joke to their collection, too. You can even hear the Joke Shows from years past, courtesy of RealPlayer: Nothing Like A Good Joke

Why was "The Adventures of Robin Hood" banned at the library?

The big thing about telling a joke is how it is told. Some people are good at it. Some are not. Who among us has not suffered through a really bad joke-teller? Someone who meanders, bogged down in the details that don't matter; someone who gets a part wrong and starts over; someone who reaches the end and provides several versions of the punchline before getting it right. Mea culpa. There's a joke I messed up every time until I realized I had to stop telling it. It's a wonderful joke but you won't hear it from me. (Answer: Too much Saxon violence. Don't get it? Say it aloud.)

Do you have a favorite joke? Feel free to leave it in Comments for others to enjoy. Ahem, keep it polite, please...

Next time: tonsorial delights. Stay tuned.

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