Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The written joke

How many jokes do I make each day at the library?

One hundred forty-eight.

See, there was one. That was probably about average, in terms of sheer comedy. Did you miss it? It was where I gave a specific... oh, okay then.

Anyway, how often do I tell one of these jokes to you here?

Once every ninety-seven days.

Sometimes the joke I tell at the library is featured, as in, sort of, later on in this post (you'll see), but occasionally the joke is just dropped into a post because it's hanging around and easy to grab and fits in some greater scheme I've got going. Oh, I've got all sorts of schemes going on in these blog posts. Huge schemes. Big, big plans. But the main thing here is that all this means that I only tell you one out of every 14,356 jokes I make at the library.

So, naturally, you would think then that that joke would be really, really good.

Alas, it doesn't work like that. 

Most of my library jokes are highly contextual. They rely on everything being just so all around them. All the people have to be in the right place, the background meaning of the discussion has to be conveyed, and the array of lead set up lines have to be carefully trotted out and timed correctly. In life all this just happens. Here, setting up this elaborate stage reproduction is overwhelming. It is stiff, cumbersome and odd. It makes my quip look tiny in all the vast machinery of having it make sense. So I don't tell you hardly any of those jokes.

But every once in awhile I tell a joke that's more like, well, a joke. It's mostly free of context, or more likely it works without most of that context and so has an easy set up to it. But most of those jokes don't register with me. I tell it. If all goes well I get a laugh, and we are on to other things.

Besides, I have bigger fish to fry. Huge fish.

That is, unless something goes wrong with one of these jokes. What if I like the joke, but, in telling it around, I can't get it to work right. I rewrite it. It falls flat. I redesign it. I hunt down fresh co-workers to joke test. Maybe I finally get it. I tell it just right. I get the laugh, and, after all that repetition and labor, I remember the joke. If I really like it I might even tell you it, if I'm feeling that way.

"Which way?" you ask.

Whimsical, usually. Sometimes I feel just a little... whimsical.

But today I told a joke and I couldn't get it to work right. It had a weird sort of joke that was simultaneous with a pun and the whole thing was too hard to get. It was easy to get half the joke, and that caused people not to look for the second half of it, eager as they were for the part where they were being told a joke to be over. I fussed with it, but soon realized it might be a better joke written. Or, that's what I wanted to try.

But where, I wondered, could I put a written joke?

I couldn't think of anywhere.

So here is the joke:

I don't think it is a good idea that we check out video games to children. They are way too impressionable. I've seen problems already. We have been checking out tons of copies of Minecraft to these impressionable children, and now all the kids at our library are minors.


Hmm, maybe it still doesn't work. I think it's just too much joke in too small a space.

Unless, of course, you thought it was funny.

But I hardly dare to dream.


If you were wondering, yes, you should comment. Not only does it remind me that I must write in intelligible English because someone is actually reading what I write, but it is also a pleasure for me since I am interested in anything you have to say.

I respond to pretty much every comment. It's like a free personalized blog post!

One last detail: If you are commenting on a post more than two weeks old I have to go in and approve it. It's sort of a spam protection device. Also, rarely, a comment will go to spam on its own. Give either of those a day or two and your comment will show up on the blog.