It’s something I’ve thought about a lot before. Do you know that feeling when you tell a joke that you think is really clever, only to be met by the cold silence of people who didn’t understand it?
Now, I’m not saying “Oh, my jokes are so clever. Anyone who doesn’t get them is stupid!” On the contrary; I’m actually saying “Oh, my jokes are so weird and abstract. Anyone who doesn’t get them must not have memorised the same Wikipedia article as I did!”
Flash back to a few days ago: I was with some co-workers, chatting our usual nonsensical drivel in a futile effort to make our dragging day pass with at least a modicum of haste. I don’t remember the topic at which it was aimed, but one of them made a joke. Now, this wasn’t any old joke; this was a ‘heard it a million times‘, tired, retired, awful joke. It was in response to this comment that I, without thinking, muttered “That joke was so old, it’s eligible for accurate carbon dating.”
Silent. They were all silent. I looked up, barely sure of what I had said, and suddenly burst into a fit of hysterical laughter. It wasn’t because the joke was funny, because it wasn’t. It was because it was so ludicrously pontificated, that I could barely fathom myself saying it; and then it dawned on me. What I needed right then, was a tiny sidekick (preferably some sort of leprechaun), to shout “Get it? Ha! Because carbon dating becomes less reliable at ageing materials from onwards of around the year 1950; the point at which atmospheric nuclear testing altered the global carbon ratio! So he’s implying that that joke has to be at least 62 years old, the point at which carbon dating is a reliable measure! Classic!” Unfortunately, my little sidekick (again preferably a leprechaun of some description), was nowhere to be found.
And so, we get to the heart of this piece:
Is anyone (to reiterate; I would absolutely prefer a leprechaun, however I may be willing to accept some sort of gnome or Pygmy) interested in becoming my professional joke explainer? I’ll try and keep at least half of them above the point of ‘atrocious’, and I’ll pay you in glass bottle Coca Colas.