I have a teacher-friend who recently shared the following joke with some of his female students:
Q. Why did the Irishman wear two condoms?
A. To be sure, to be sure.
He might have gotten away with it except that he happened to be working as a teacher at a Catholic Girls’ school. Need I say anything more than “Ouch!”? And no, there’s no point asking what he was thinking because it’s safe to assume he wasn’t thinking anything at all. Except, perhaps, “How can I ensure 100% that they won’t renew my contract?”.
Humour is a tricksy medium and it can go so wrong so easily. Many a time, I’ve cracked a joke and had it fall flatter than the flattest thing possible (even flatter than my mood after a four hour stint in an indoor playcentre) because I’ve misjudged my audience. I personally maintain that my post-vasectomy jokes are amongst my funniest material but apparently there’s about 50% of the population who don’t (see “The Snip Snipe“). One of my uni friends got up at his housemate’s 21st birthday party and told an oh-so-amusing anecdote about her having loud sex with her boyfriend. Which he might have carried off had her octogenarian grandmother not been sitting in the front row with a face like thunder – and the rest of the audience knew it. Let’s face it: it’s hard to laugh uproariously when you’re afraid of being bashed on the bonce by a zimmer frame.
The strange thing about the internet is that you’re never sure who exactly your audience is so you end up writing for the void. And since some of my audience stumble across my blog by the strangest of routes (see “Best Boy“) they themselves don’t really know which show they’ve come to see. I particularly enjoyed the visit the other day from the lady who came to my blog via the search terms “I piss on my husband” – whether that was “from a great height” or “to get my husband horny”, I’ll never know – it may even have been both. But I was sure glad she paid me a visit because it really made my day. It made me think of when Australia’s own Swimming Sensation™ Stephanie Rice won gold at Beijing and the mainstream media were touting her as “Golden Rice”. If only, I said at the time, her name was Stephanie Shower. If only…
But I digress. My husband very rarely laughs at my jokes in person (when he does it’s a sound more surprising than an unprompted “please” from The Pixie’s mouth) but he sometimes gets a chuckle or two from my blog (or so he claims). He’s a tough crowd – but I forgive him, only because his early forays into comedy were stunted by his father, who told him rather sternly “I tell the jokes around here”.
Luckily for our kids, he hasn’t taken that same fierce line with them and we both encourage and enjoy the comic material they’ve been working on around the dinner table. Mostly, they involve variations on the “Knock Knock” and “Why did the [blank] cross the road?” joke – those cornerstones of Western comedy. Usually their jokes are fairly harmless, but occasionally they get seriously weird-arse. I’ll wrap this post up with a joke from the “extreme enthusiasm and creativity” of six year old Mr Justice, who likes to have the last word on most subjects:
Mr Justice: Why did the concrete go up onto the fence?
Me: I don’t know. Why did the concrete go up onto the fence?
Mr Justice: So he could show his butt.
Mr Justice: His butt is short for button.
Me: (forced laughter) That’s a strange joke.
Mr Justice: No, it’s funny. Jokes are meant to be funny. Not strange.
I think there’s a lesson in that for all of us.