Knock-knock. Who’s there? Another “Guide to Life.” Another “Guide to Life” who? Another “Guide to Life” for you.
That, my friends, is one of the worst jokes that one could probably ever come up with. The setup was horrible, the punchline was even worse, and the sanctity of all knock-knock jokes just received a, well, knock altogether. Fear not though my loyal reader, as in this “Guide to Life” I’ll be showing you how to not only tell a good joke, but recover from a bad one, and just be funny in general.
Now you might be thinking to yourself, “Wait a minute, who is this Mike guy and what the hell does he know?” Well, first of all if you look on the top of the page, it says “Humor Column.” So, you doubting I know humor is like you doubting the fine editors of this paper for choosing me to write such columns.1
Second, my family has told me numerous times that I can be “quite the cut-up” at family gatherings.2 With both those points said, are you really going to doubt both the Mustang Daily editors and my family?3 Great, glad we have that taken care of and that you can now proceed with this newfound trust in me.
So, any good joke needs a good set up. This ranges from long stories that take awhile to get to the punch line, or just quick one liners. If you don’t have the setup though, you don’t have a joke. Here is an example of some topical humor – “Did you hear about how Saddam Hussein is appealing his sentence to be hung?” So, I set it up with what seemingly is a serious question, even showing that I actually do know what is going on in the world. But then, all of a sudden, watch out, ’cause here comes the punch line – “Yeah, well Tommy Lee tried to give some advice to Saddam saying that, ‘It’s not so bad bro, that’s what really made me famous.’”4 And Whammy! A play on words so good that you’ll leave your audience laughing uncontrollably on the floor.5
By the way, while on the topic, pretty much any joke having to do with Tommy Lee’s, er, fireman, is funny. Immature? Maybe. But let’s stay on the topic because I’m saying ANY joke about it is funny. Why did the chicken cross the road? No, not to get to the other side, but because the chicken was really like any girl in the world and Tommy Lee was on the other side.6 KABOOM! Oh man, instant classic right there.
OK, so moving on. When your joke or funny story bombs, you need some way to recover. You know how that goes. It happens daily in casual conversation, as well as on TV all the time.
Let’s look at what John Kerry said a month or so ago. Kerry basically said that if young people don’t do well in the American school system, they’ll get stuck in Iraq. Whoops, not really the setup and huge punch line that probably would have been best. It isn’t the biggest shocker in the world, that probably one of the most unfunny men imaginable, minus, oh I don’t know, Hitler7 messed up a joke.
However, Kerry did try the joke, so I’ll at least applaud him for that one. Now, to recover, there are different ways of doing this. The best way is to probably say something so dumb that you’ll get everyone’s attention off of what you just said. My roommate, Mike Horwitz8 for example, throw, “And then I found $20” to the end of every crappy joke he says.9 Just get creative with that, and you can steer people quite a ways away from what you just said.
Really, there isn’t much else to it. Start with your setup, throw in a Tommy Lee punch line as much as possible, and if that fails, just start either exaggerating or making something up if your joke still bombs.
Now, as a bonus, I’m going to give you the quick guide to comedy. This will move fast, but still, try to pay attention.
People falling? Funny. Abortion? Not funny. Pies in the face? Funny. Drinks spilled on girls’ heads? Not funny. Boners? Funny. Farts? Funny. Poverty? Not funny. Squirrels? Funny. Skip-its? Funny. Kevin Federline’s career? Funny. Allergies? Not funny.10 Hilary Duff’s career over because of cocaine? Funny. Diarrhea? Funny. Diarrhea when friends are over? Not funny. AIDS? Not funny. Mustaches? Funny. “The Lion King”? Funny, except for when Mufasa dies. That part sucks.
Telling jokes now with advice from this article? Funny.
1 Seriously, $100 will get you your own column and $25 per week to keep getting it published.
2 And they sure saw that, because like the turkey, I STUFFED the room with jokes last week on Thanksgiving!
3 Watch out ’cause now it is getting personal.
4 Sorry, was that too soon for all you Saddam fans?
5 Or actually whenever I say it, I get a, “Dude shut the hell up.” Maybe you’ll have better luck.
6 Pick your poison. Replace “chicken” with “Clay Aiken” or “Lance Bass” and you can still get an equally funny joke.
7 Except for his mustache. That always makes me laugh.
8 Yes, I Mike Heimowitz, live with Mike Horwitz. Laugh all you want. We get it all the time.
9 Which is a lot.
10 I used to have hay fever when I was young. Laugh it up, you jerks.
Mike Heimowitz is a journalism senior and Mustang Daily humor columnist. Find out why he crossed the road at www.mikeheimowitz.com