Thursday, October 6, 2005

Bad Jokes, Told Badly

Weekend Assignment #80: Share a favorite joke. Keep it clean, of course. Otherwise, go nuts.

Extra credit: Seriously: Do people think you're funny?

You're about eight months late, John S.  I told all my favorite jokes back in February.  Thud.


The brick. 2/4/05    Karen's Joke File: An Experiment (#1 of about 5)

2/5/05    Karen's Joke File #2: The Brick (The Rooster Was Better)

2/6/05    Karen's Joke File #3: The Prison Jokes

2/7/05    Karen's Joke File #4: The Con and the Corn Flakes

2/8/05    Karen's Joke File: The Monkey and the Cigar

The other two jokes I remember from my dad's joke-telling friend (circa 1968), are not very PC.  I'd be embarrassed to tell them.

Instead, let's examine a famous, not-particularly-good joke made funnier by a deliberately poor presentation.  It appears in both the movie My Favorite Year and in the "Restless" episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The fair K.C. mangles a joke.
Nominally, the joke goes like this, allowing for TOS:

A guy with a duck on his head walks into a psychiatrist's office.  The psychiatrist says, "Can I help you?"

"Yeah," says the duck.  "Get this guy off my [butt]."


In My Favorite Year, tv comedy writer Benjy Stone (Mark Linn-Baker) is wooing K.C. (Jessica Harper), a production assistant who says she isn't funny.  Claiming that "anyone can tell a joke," Benjy tells her the joke above, and tries to coach her through telling it back to him.  But she doesn't know how to use her hands, and the joke itself goes seriously awry:

"A man...this guy, walks into a doctor's office...."  [At this point she starts over, incorporating Benjy's corrections.]  "This guy walks into a psychiatrist's office, wearing a duck."  [Third attempt.]  "This guy walks into a psychiatrist's office with a duck on his head.  And this guy says to the psychiatrist, 'Will you help me?  Because I have a duck on my head."

Wow, that was painful to transcribe.

In "Restless," Joss Whedon's wonderfully literal ex-demon character, Anya, tries to tell the same joke during a dream sequence set in a teen hangout called The Bronze. 


Anya tells the same joke.  but has to check her notes.

"Okay.  A man walks into the office of a doctor.  He's wearing on his head um...wait.  There's...there's a duck.  Is that right?"  [Consults a sheet of paper as someone in the crowd heckles her.]  "Quiet!  You'll miss the humorous conclusion."  [She carries on telling the joke, but we don't hear her as Giles talks with Xander and Willow.  We do, however, see a great deal of very funny body language.  Finally we hear her "humorous conclusion."] "...And then the duck tells the doctor that 'there's a man attached to my [butt].'  You see, it was the duck, and not the man, that spoke."

Giles thinks she's "doing quite well."  ...and she's pleased, because she does get a laugh. 

Heh.  Much better than the actual joke.

Googling around to research this entry, I remembered (but did not actually see) one more joke that I learned a few years ago, and actually tell from time to time:

A man walks into a veterinarian's office with a dead cat.  It's obviously dead, so much so that it's stiff with rigor mortis

"I'm sorry sir," says the vet, "but your cat is dead." 

"That's it?" says the man.  "Aren't you going to do  any tests or anything?"

"It's not necessary," says the vet.  "Your cat is obviously dead."

"Humor me," says the man.

The vet sighs.  "If you insist," he says. She gets up, leaves the room for a moment, and comes back with a labrador retriever.  The dog sniffs the dead cat, wags its tail sadly, and leaves the room.

"Still not convinced?" says the vet.

"That doesn't prove anything," says the man.

"Okay, you asked for it," says the veterinarian.  She leaves the room again, and comes back with a cat - a live  one.  The cat sniffs the dead pet, paws it a little, meows sadly, and goes away.

"I'm afraid that's definitive," says the vet.  "I'm sorry,  but your cat is most definitely dead.  Please pay the receptionist on your way out."

"You're going to charge me for that?" cries the man angrily.

"Certainly."

"How much?"

"$200."

"$200?  What for?"

The vet sighs again.  "Well, if you'd just believed me when I told you that your cat was dead, the charge would only have been $25.  You're the one who insisted on the lab test and the cat scan."

I know.  It's kind of cruel, but it's funny, too.

Dead cats also figure in a couple of jokes told at cabaret by Doctor Who actors John Levene (a.k.a. John Anthony Blake) and the late Jon Pertwee.  I'll save those for another time. 

Oh, and there's also the spinach joke.  Did I tell you about that one?

Extra Credit: I'm occasionally accused of lacking a sense of humor, especially in moments of anger.  I can't make up a joke to save my life, and I'm no match for certain people I know when they're in full banter mode.  I also have a bad habit of responding to joking questions as if they were serious. But I do manage to amuse people fairly often, and there are definitely funny moments in even my most serious fiction.  What do you guys say?  Am I funny?

Karen

10 comments:

ryanagi said...

You have what is known as "an off-beat sense of humor". :-)  So do I. Stuff that regular folk find funny usually I just end up shaking my head in bemusement.

kalpal said...

Being intentionally funny is hard work. Coming up with an occasionally humorous response happens fairly often. If you read comedian bios, they spent time reading joke books or hung around people who cracked jokes incessantly.

As a school project at OSU my class was asked to teach a computer to make up jokes. We failed. We had no idea how to write a logic tree for it. We were told to deconstruct a joke and see how it came to be. The Joke was as follows:

"Mommy, Mommy why am I running around in a circle?"

"Shut up or I'll nail your other foot to the ground."

Funny? Eh? (This was a joke told to us by Jesuit Priest who was teaching the class.)

pixiedustnme said...

>snicker< >giggle<  http://journals.aol.com/pixiedustnme/Inmyopinion/entries/1291

sakishler said...

Yeah, you're funny. People can be silly and deep all at once you know.

ondinemonet said...

I like this entry very much. I love the pics of Anya...it was a very good moment in the show.  "Theres a duck on my butt." It was an excellent surreal moment. As for you having a sense of humor, well I would say you do...you laugh at my silliness. :) Are you funny? How many times have your brightened my day? 60 or so?

Always, Carly :)

ondinemonet said...

I like this entry very much. I love the pics of Anya...it was a very good moment in the show.  "Theres a duck on my butt." It was an excellent surreal moment. As for you having a sense of humor, well I would say you do...you laugh at my silliness. :) Are you funn? How many times have your brightened my day? 60 or so?

Always, Carly :)

gaboatman said...

Karen
Personally, I thinkyou're a hoot!  I really like how you can find pics of the scenes of shows and movies you write about here.  
Are you pulling these off a Google search or do you have the DVD's and pull the shots off of your private collection?
Sam

deabvt said...

The vet sighs again.  "Well, if you'd just believed me when I told you that your cat was dead, the charge would only have been $25.  You're the one who insisted on the lab test and the cat scan."

Now, that`s funny!
V

firestormkids04 said...

Yep.  giggled with the best of them.  Keep on telling them . .. Penny

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