There are a number of things I suck at. Doing anything crafty tops the list, followed by shopping and anything requiring opposable thumbs.
Fourth is telling jokes. I recognize this is ironic-to-the-power-of-infinity given that I’m writing a humor book.
I was reminded of this last night, when my husband and I were watching an episode of the short-lived sitcom, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. This series was Aaron Sorkin’s follow-up to The West Wing, and it features a behind-the-scenes look at a Saturday Night Live-ish show. The female lead is named Harriet; she is the co-anchor of the satirical news cast.
Here’s a clip of Harriet from the episode we just watched. She’s just won a comedy award and has learned that she must tell one joke when she accepts the award. This is her rehearsing.
(And if you watch at 2:02, I’ve mis-told the same Knock Knock joke in this precise manner).
My joke-telling abilities are worse than Harriet’s. Sure, I’m witty, I can write the occasional funny quip, and my sarcasm backhand usually scores.
But I can’t tell a joke.
In fact, my husband has been known to try to get me to tell a joke at parties. “Leanne,” he’ll say, “come here. Listen, everyone. Leanne is going to tell a joke.”
He knows I love an audience, so he’ll goad me until I agree. Only my attempt at telling a joke is the joke.
Here is a list of things that can go wrong:
- I move my lips while I rehearse the joke.
- I start with the punchline, but don’t realize this until the end.
- When I notice my audience is engaged, I take creative liberty and add my own flair. As always, I go too far.
- I rush it.
- I go too slowly.
- I forget it.
- I remember it, in the wrong order.
- I do weird body movements, such as rocking forward or looking off to one side.
- A jumbo jet lands on my head.
I specialize in destroying A-Man-Walks-into-a-Bar jokes.
Here is an example, unrehearsed. Warning, this will be the longest 96 seconds of your day.
P.S. My husband watched this and strained a muscle in his back from laughing so hard. To quote him, “you messed that up in more than 9 ways.”
What’s your favorite joke to tell or mis-tell?
What do you suck at?
(Bloggers, feel free to do your own Humiliation Station post)