While in college, I developed an instinctive sense of humor and the ability to remember and tell jokes. Timing, which is the essential ingredient that turns an ordinary story into a joke, came easily to me. I also understood the second commandment; don’t tell jokes that telegraph themselves. Shock or surprise are essential to the delivery of the punch line. Be it a one-liner, a shaggie dog story, or something in between, In most cases, delivering a hard tap is more effective than pulling off a soft shoe ending.
Hennie Youngman was a master of the one-liner: “Take my wife; please” “A guy asked me for a bite, so I bit him.”
I discovered my two personal favorite one-liners on visits to our local post office in Marlow, NH. The first was sported by a local woman’s tee shirt. It pronounced: “Kiss My Ass, I’m on Vacation.” The second was a chap wearing a baseball cap that noted, “Got a Gun for My Wife: Good Trade.”
One-liners are in the moment and quickly forgotten. Personally, I love shaggy dog stories that seem to go on forever without telegraphing the ending. The key to this art form is to draw your audience in and keep them intrigued as your story weaves a crooked path while maintaining the suspense. Build up the suspense until, out of nowhere, you hit them with the punch line.
I have two favorite shaggy dog stories and this is the milder of the two. It is also my personal favorite because the teller must repeat every line of the joke as he / she tells each sequence and increases the length. Most jokes like this one are best told in a bar or a café where liquor is liberally served and consumed. For sanity’s sake, I will set it out in its entirety without it’s complete repetition:
An 18-year-old French-Canadian seaman gets shore leave in the port of Montreal. In his pocket, he has a piece of paper with the name of a woman, her address and phone number. He seeks out a pay phone, deposits the required coins and dials her number:
Halo, is this Miss Evan Doucette?
Qui, this is Miss Evan Doucette .
Halo, is this Miss Evon Doucette of 221 Duquesne Street, Montreal, Quebec, Canada?
Qui, this is Miss Evon Doucette of 221 Duquesne, Montreal, Quebec, Canada,
Halo, is this Miss Evon Doucette of 221 Duquesne Street, Montreal, Quebec, Canada who had the baby 18 years ago and threw the baby into de trash can in de alley?
Qui, this is Miss Evon Doucette of 221 Duquesne Street, Montreal, Quebec, Canada who had the baby 18 years ago and threw the baby into the trash can in de alley.
My material played havoc with a wide-spectrum of life’s problems following the theory that tragedy plus time equals humor. I even had an Aids joke:
Doctor, I don’t know if my husband has a heart condition or Aids. What should I do?
Take him up to the track and force him to run a mile. If he doesn’t drop dead, don’t f**ck him!
One day, seemingly out of nowhere, a new paperback book appeared entitles: “Truly Tasteless Jokes”. I bought a copy of this book only to discover to my dismay that almost a third of my material had been usurped by this book: “Damn!”
Over time, I reconciled my pain to the fact that “Truly Tasteless Jokes,” forced me to abandon being a joke man well before the arrival of political correctness and when the cancel culture and the thought police would come knocking at my door.
I do regret the loss of a free rein culture where joke telling sessions, especially classic stories like the one about the little girl Petal and her doggie Porky, or Jesus, being angry on Easter could be told without fear of condemnation or cancellation. Morning
All of this brings me to my own brand-new original joke. Hopefully, it follows all the rules I have set out for a perfect hit, so, as a warning, may I suggest that you place any beverage container on a solid surface before you read on:
As a non-practicing Catholic, it shocks me when I attend wedding and funeral masses only too discover that the liturgy has been changed. The simple:
Command: May God be with you:
Response: And with thy spirit.
Has undergone a metamorphosis to new speak that my brain cannot remember. Then, out of the blue, I thought of my own ecclesiastical change to this exchange:
Command: May God be with you:
Response: And with the horse you rode in on!
“On The Outside Looking In” will not publish on July 7 and will return on July 14. Happy 4th of July.”