Joke Etiquette

I like making people laugh.  I have been told (by my wife and others) that I am at my funniest with situational humor. This is something I can’t plan, it’s unpredictible.  This is where I say something funny in the moment that was not planned.

Obviously I can’t rely on funny situations to be around all the time, so sometimes I rely on telling jokes to make people laugh.  My favorite short joke is “Why don’t lobsters share?  Because they’re shellfish.”  I probably know over a thousand jokes, because I can remember most jokes after hearing them once.  They sit there in my memory waiting for something to remind me of the joke.  Mention an animal, and I probably know a joke about it.  Sports, etc.

All that being said, I dislike when I hear jokes being told wrong.  Sometimes people mess up the punchline.  But the worst thing you can do to a joke is to make it longer than necessary by using “filler.”  The longer the joke, the less funny it is. People frequently have the character in a joke doing something three times before the punchline.  Ask yourself: would it be funny if he only did it once?  Then don’t have it three times.

Here is an example of a long joke I found on the internet:

“Sir you have got to help!” said the tearful man at the door. “There is a family that I know very well that is in desperate need of money. The Father has been out of a job for over a year, they have five kids at home with barely a bit of food to eat. The worst part is, that they are about to kicked out of the house and they will be left on the streets without a roof over their heads!” The man concluded with one last heart wrenching sob. “Well,” said the man at the door, “that really is a sad story. Why don’t you come inside and we’ll talk about it a little more.” “So how much money is needed exactly?” asked the man when they were both seated. “Oh it’s really terrible”, said the man starting up again, “why just for the rent $3000 is needed by tomorrow otherwise they’ll be kicked out onto the streets.” “How do you know so much about this situation?” asked the man as he reached for his check book. “Well,” said the man breaking down once more “they are my tenants.”

Now I will tell the joke, removing all the extra, unnecessary parts.

Please help!” said the man at the door. “This family I know is very poor! They have no money and no food, and they’re about to be evicted from their house!” The homeowner said, “That’s horrible! Are they your relatives?” “No,” said the man. “I’m their landlord.”

Here’s another example: if your joke contains the words “….and without missing a beat…”  it’s too long.  Examine your jokes and break them down to the absolute minimum parts before you tell them.  Do those words you were going to put in there add anything to the joke?  No?  Then leave them out.  Your audience will thank you.

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About Steve Picray

I am the current pastor of the Rapids Street Baptist Church in Adel, Iowa. Every day I commit my life to Jesus Christ. I am also a registered nurse working to support my ministry and my wife and three kids. I am a conservative Baptist. This blog is my view on life. My prayer is that, by reading what I write, you will learn more about me, more about God, and be assisted in becoming the person God means for you to be. If you have a question, just e-mail me at spicray AT gmail DOT com. God Bless!
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One Response to Joke Etiquette

  1. Two word joke – “Barrak Obama”
    Three word joke – “Barrack Hussein Obama”
    Four word joke – “The economy is recovering”
    Five word joke – Oops. Over budget. We can’t afford five words.Who do you think we are? The UN?

    See… truth is seldom funny.

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