You may not realize it, but Lame Jokes and their “Tellers”, are disappearing at an alarming rate… My first impulse is to suggest filtering some of our government’s vast supply of surplus money to the full investigation of this problem. (See what I did there?) This could possibly be classified as a lame joke. Lets check the criteria to see if all the characteristics of a lame joke are present: “First of all, is it lame?” That was pretty easy to answer: “Yes it is.” So now – is it short enough to eliminate the need for the hearer to have a clear grasp of reality, or an elastic attention span? Answer:“Yes.” Ok, does it require the recipient to be in possession of greater intellect than your average pre-teen male? Well, all the intellect you need, is to know that our government does not, in fact, have a surplus of funds at their disposal and if they would, they would not grant money to weird and crazy ideas like tracking the decline of telling of lame jokes. (I hope) And finally: does it take up a lot of memory in the teller’s already cluttered brain? (Nothing sabotages a lame joke quicker than coming to the punchline and discovering that you have temporarily misplaced or eliminated a vital part of the joke.)
“What?” You may ask – “Does it not have to be funny? Or at the least contain some humorous content?” “No.” That is the whole point of a lame joke, it is the lameness and delivery that lends it it’s humor. I think the lameness is pretty self-explanatory, although the level of lameness varies from one individual to the next.
When sharing a lame joke, it may be advised to practice in front of a mirror until you can deliver the punchline with just the correct balance of humor and expectation. Notice I said balance, it is important that you are not laughing to the point of not being able to finish the joke – this will leave the audience feeling cheated when they finally do hear the punchline, between your snorts and guffaws, because they were built up to expect something funny. Now, it is just as important to build your audience’s anticipation to the correct level at the right time. It is embarrassing for the teller and the hearer alike, when you are building the expectation too fast and too soon, which could result in one or more of your listeners belting out a laugh at a small pause previous to the punchline. (If you have ever done this, you know what I’m talking about.)
One time, as I was listening to a very animated “teller” I got caught up in the moment, and was watching his expressions more than concentrating on the joke. When he paused and looked around expectantly to see if his audience was still with him, I mistook this gesture as a sign that he had delivered the punch line, and obligingly let loose a long rolling laugh. But imagine my embarrassment when I noticed I was the only one laughing and the other listeners were staring at me as if I had just committed a major social error (which I unwittingly had). Fortunately the teller hardly skipped a beat and kept plodding through his joke to the lame end. Everyone survived this incident with the only casualty being my pride.
Please do your part to keep lame jokes from becoming extinct. Find someone to share one with today. Just be aware that you may get some varying responses depending on your audience and your delivery. As for me, I’m almost done practicing in front of the mirror…