Sunday, June 17, 2007

Anatomy of a bad joke 

It all started with this joke. We were at a party at our PM(Product Manager)'s place. T and I were as usual occupied in various useless conversions.

Me: Isn't it funny how adding an O at the beginning of PM makes it sound like Opium.
T: You know what. We should have a rank called OPM ... maybe Organizational Product Manager or something like that.
Me: You know what kind of a rank that'll be?
T: What?
Me: A very "High" rank.

Arrrrrghh! Another sad joke bites the dust the queen would've said. But somehow the joke sounded so much better in my mind. But I have to accept that the joke when cracked, lacked the punch of a classic and that made me think back abt all the failed jokes I've cracked and the idea for this post came to mind.

Now come on. To the readers of this blog (to who I'm extremely apologetic abt the long delay) it should come as no surprise that I know a thing or two abt bad jokes. Hey! I almost completely own the right to really bad jokes. So why (and how) does a joke become a bad joke? Let's get into the skin of it - shall we?

No joke begins by being a bad joke. Even when you begin your sentence with "Ok, wanna hear a really bad joke ..." what you really secretly mean is "Hey, I found this joke funny but in case you don't then don't blame me later." So why then does a joke that was good in your mind become bad suddenly??

The number one reason for the annihilation of a good joke is context. Without context a joke is like a woman's short dress. On the right person and situation it would be a treat. But then give it to someone not meant for it and you are inviting visual harakiri. Take this joke for an example. I was talking to a friend and she showed me the photograph of another common friend's boyfriend who the common friend thinks is very good looking (whoa. what a confusing background). The first thing I noticed was the really long nose the guy had and my first reaction was "Wow. He makes Pinocchio look like an honest man." Not to be overshadowed by me, my friend chipped in with "Right. And the wooden expression just adds on to that." Now, I know what you are thinking. That it is wrong to make fun of ppl. And that's where context comes in. The guy in question is rumored to be a jerk and so we didn't feel any remorse while taking a dig at him. Also the images were posted with gooey captions that screamed for our comments and hence not only do I not feel bad abt the joke, it was indeed quite funny given the context.

The next biggest reason for a mutilated joke is kind friends. And by kind friends I mean drunk friends and luvahs. Drunk friends should never be trusted as a yardstick for jokes. Get a guy sufficiently drunk and he will laugh at anything. "This hot dog is so bad that they must have cooked it with the dog's poop in it." Now come on. That's just sad. A single line offending pet lovers and food connoisseurs. How bad is that? And yet your drunk friend will laugh hysterically. Not only will he just laugh, he will also repeat it to all the other drunk friends. "Hey, hey, listen to what he just said. Ha ha ha ha. So funny man. Ha ha ha. This hot dog is ..." And before you know every one in the party is laughing at your joke and you are convinced that it is a masterpiece. Next morning the same drunk guys are sitting there and having hot dogs for lunch and you come and crack the same joke and they shout back at you. "Why would you do that to us Raj? You just freakin spoilt lunch for me man," they yell. "What the fudge. You thought this joke was hysterical last night ... and my name is not Raj."

And yes. Never judge a joke based on what your luvvah thinks abt it. I have laughed at some reallllly bad jokes in the past just to make people I was with then happy. Some of those jokes damaged me permanently but I still laughed and I am sure the favor was more than returned. Like even now my mom cracks the lamest jokes in the World and my dad laughs like it is a Tom and Jerry skit. Then he asks her to repeat it one more time. And my mom does. On one hand I feel happy to see my parents so much in love and on the other hand I feel sad for my dad. Sob!

To end this post, another conversation that when taken out of context is just dumb but was quite funny if you were there.

Me: I feel most movies have stories that can be said in a line.
T: Like?
Me: Give me a movie.
T: Terminator II.
Me: Bad robot. Good robot. Good robot wins.
T: Harry Met Sally.
Me: for i = 1 to 10 { boy and girl meet; } They get together.
T: Arrrrrgh!
Me: Hey, there is a movie where the story is the same as the name.
T: What?
Me: Robo Cop.
T: That I will give you.



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