The Art of Not Being Funny

I’m a big fan of funny jokes. I love laughing so hard that it’s hard to breathe and then others laugh because you’re laughing and then, all of a sudden (often 15 minutes later), you’re all gasping for air and feeling as though you’ve just done a super-set of crunches, “burpies” and the “plank”. Laughing means you’re happy – even if only momentarily. But, what I’ve been thinking lots about lately is the over-use of (however oxymoronic this may sound) unfunny jokes.

You’ve all heard them. They’re usually followed by a “courtesy” laugh, a quick look around at others, a slow petering out of the laugh and then a fake smile that’s meant as false reassurance that, just because you’ve stopped laughing, you still found the unfunny joke “funny” (please excuse me for the over-use of quotation marks).

Funnily enough – I’m actually a big fan of unfunny jokes. Oh haha, you’re all a funny lot – yes, I do tell a LOT of shit jokes – BUT there’s a way of telling a crap joke that may end with a certain look or a loud “wah wah” which makes a terrible/cliché/stupid joke a little funnier than it deserves to be. These inflections, at the very least, can serve to make the joke tolerable. But what is alarming, and increasingly more apparent, to me is the total disregard some people have for cliché jokes and terms of phrase. One that stands pretty high on the over-used cliché list is “If I told you, I’d have to kill you”.

Oh how hilarious. You mean to say that you’d tell me whatever information I’d just asked for but on the condition you’d take my life? That’s tremendously funny. Did you make that up yourself? Oh no. In actual fact, your old man probably let loose this ripper of a one-liner many years ago – and even at that early stage this joke was at least 100 years old. When YOUR old man said it he probably MEANT it.

Without sounding too “angsty” at those who pull such tired one-liners and then expect life-long adoration, these people need to (maybe in conjunction with a swig of cold Lift Plus) “sharpen up” and “get their shit together”. On the bright side, however, these people are worth a knowing shake of your head and a laugh… at their expense. Humour comes in all forms after all.

P.S. It’s worth noting the degree of “funnyness” (or “unfunnyness”) is often determined by a number of outlying factors such as the level of drunkenness of the joker or the “jokee”, the context under which the joke is delivered and… the general vibe of the setting. 

Other snippets of “unfunnyness” include:

  • “That’s what she said” or “that’s what all the girls say”
  • The over-use of the words “random” and “literally” – more on that here

There are quite a range of similarly over-used terms. Add to this as you will and I shall do likewise as they come to mind.

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