Thus begins the last really good joke I heard, several years ago now; answer at the bottom!
I recently realised that I never hear new jokes any more.
I had an actual joke book as a small kid, and my family would share cheesy jokes around the dinner table. My Dad’s thing was always to mix up the punch lines to some of his favourite terrible puns, leading to the following gems:
“My wife’s gone to the Caribbean”
“No, it’s terrible!”
“My dog’s got no nose”
“How does he smell?”
“He does it of his own accord!”
etc. We’re used to this behaviour, but outsiders find it most confusing.
Jokes (mostly the immature kind) were ten a penny during high school. Going to university in a different town resulted in the merging of everyone’s local jokes into one big shared melting pot of guffaws and groans. The same thing happened to a lesser extent when I moved again for a PhD, and any major event in those days seemed to spawn a crop of excellent new jokes seemingly overnight; I heard several very dark (but funny) jokes about Princess Diana within days of her death, for instance. And then of course I acquired a whole set of jokes-in-law from Mr E Man and his family.
But now? It just doesn’t seem to happen.
There does seem to have been an explosion of visual jokes recently – Facebook has gone crazy for them in the last few months for some reason, and of course there’s always Chemistry Cat. (This one’s my favourite, but I’ve literally LOLed at a few of them):
see more Dropping The Science
But the actual telling of jokes in person seems to be a lost art.
Is it due to the competition from Facebook et al.? (Is it just easier to hit “share” on a funny captioned photo than to come up with, memorise, and pass on a more traditional joke?)
Is it my age or career stage? (The people with whom I interact the most at work are the PIs, who do have a sense of humour (my main boss has quoted several bits of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe at me over the years, for example) but are highly, highly unlikely to tell me a good joke).
Is it just that I’ve been in the same place for ten years and have heard all my friends’ jokes already? (I don’t think so, because my main core group of friends is always in flux, with some people moving on to a new job in a new town, and others arriving to take their place).
Is a UK / Canada cultural difference to blame? (The timing of my move does correlate with the reduced joke frequency, and my Dad is still the most likely person to tell me a new joke he’s heard, usually from his golf buddies. Unfortunately, most of his jokes are about golf).
Or has Stephen Harper just sucked all the joy, fun and laughter out of Canadians?
I asked Mr E Man what he thought, and he replied that I must just work with boring people; he hears lots of jokes. Why doesn’t he share them when he gets home? Well, they’re mostly filthy and often sexist – two examples (admittedly funny, but definitely unbloggable) sufficed to prove his point (NB there are an increasing number of women in his industry, but none in his particular crew, which explains rather than excuses this behaviour). There was one exception to the rule: a joke about a hippy volunteering to clear the troublesome flock of seagulls from an airport runway using his stash of drugs, seemingly successfully – only for the first plane to take off that day to be brought down by the only bird that was still able to fly. Punch line? (all together now, say it with me): leave no tern unstoned.
What’s your experience? Do you still hear new jokes, in person? If not, why not?
Please preface all comments with your favourite joke.
So. What is the difference between Mick Jagger and a Scottish farmer?
Mick Jagger says “Hey, you, get offa my cloud”, but the Scottish farmer says “Hey, McLeod, get offa my ewe!”
(Mr E Man told me this joke. He got it from his uncle, who played rugby for Scotland, so please don’t hate me, Scottish friends!)