Tuesday, March 21, 2006

From Will Type for Food ,(as pointed out by This Blog Will Be Deleted by Tomorrow), the deconstruction of the telling of a joke.

"...where a normal person will tell a joke in this order:

a) Introduce characters
b) Tell the story, omitting no crucial detail
c) Tell funny ending to story.
d) Be recipient of warm laughter and applause.

Here is my way of telling the joke.

a) Forget to introduce the characters
b) Tell the story
c) Forget to tell crucial detail
d) Remember to introduce characters
e) Tell funny ending to story
f) Remember to tell crucial detail
g) Be recipient of scorn and oppobrium. "

Not too many character issues can be so white and black.
Either you can tell a joke or you should just listen. My ever-loving wife is one of the former. Me? I listen to her jokes. My Achille's Heel is my timing, a thorough lack of it. Forgetting crucial details or using the wrong accent or mis-judging the audience, well, those traits don't help my cause either. Even with jokes not requiring any props or minimal acting, I usually am on the road to Flubdom.

I hang my sorry excuse on my grammar school. I'm positive that I burned out my memory cells specific to long passages back at St John's the Sorry Confessor in New Jersey. Memorizing the answers for all of the questions posed in the Baltimore Catechism in preparation of the Bishop's always impending visit to his young warriors was a Sisyphean task. We young tykes climbed up the mammoth mountain of rote religion only to Jack 'N Jill back down when another new version of the Catechism came up. I despised Baltimore, equating it to a prison where movement was allowed only upon successfully answering balck and white Catholic questions. I imagined walking through the city bedecked like those kids at the National Spelling Bee, my sign listing the question that I'd hosed.

So, that's why I melt into the wall when a joke is required to join the conversation clutch. Burnt out memory skills.

That, and timing.
Bad timing.

Et tu Brute?

I have excellent timing, which is also a curse. I am so naturally funny that people laugh before I can even finish a . . . sentence. I became a writer just to prove how serious I was and how I could tackle big subjects; and people still find a way to declare me ridiculous. Apparently in order to shield themselves from the coming onslaught of . . . if they would just listen, something too funny for words. Go figure!
Well, you got me laughing. I guess composition, like timing, is everything.
I can never remember jokes, or I get the punchlines mixed-up.
I've cured myself of my major joke-telling flaw; a fondness for shaggy dog stories. Long involved narratives that end (with a thud) on a pun. My favorite involved a dozen penguins, a sports car and an ice cream store. Took about fifteen minutes. Alienated any number of 'friends'.

Come to think of it, maybe I'm not cured. I just don't have any friends left.
And so, with but a single click, does the proustian Darko conjure in the mind the long-ridden memories of 4th-Grade "Mrs. S", that I sit once more white-knuckled at my desk, squirming to evade her fearsome purse-lipped catechismic stare; as though she were once more alive and breathing fire.

The chief spiritual works of mercy are seven, and the first of these is "to admonish the sinner."

Shame on you Darko.
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