Thursday, October 10, 2013

Day 10: Diagramming a joke, Part 2

Today, I laughed as: I said "yes" when the boyfriend proposed!
I also cried. I was also so happy, I didn't know what to do, so I laughed, and cried and, of course, said yes.
I was in the kitchen packing some things for our move when I heard L. come running in, leave something on the counter and run away. I heard the boyfriend say, "I think you should see what she brought you."
From this, I assumed it was cat poop or something gross. But when I looked down, it was a black velvet box. I opened it and saw the ring and turned around and saw the boyfriend on his knee. And I was so full of emotions, I laughed while crying.


Yesterday, I talked about the setup, which really makes up about 80 percent of how funny a joke actually is. Part 2, of course, is the punchline.

The "Itchy and Scratchy"
of past generations.
I tried to find the etymology behind the word, hoping it would be something worth talking about, but etymologists are apparently baffled by it. I thought maybe it came from the old timey puppet show, "Punch and Judy," which I had seen in an old black and white movie we had. I did, however, think it was pretty funny. It was the original Itchy and Scratchy, let's be honest.

All I can figure is the punchline should be delivered like a punch: quick and to the point!

Punchlines, like the setup, shouldn't take a lot of explanation. If there are a sequence of punchlines, e.g. telling a funny story with multiple humorous points, it makes sense to increase the funniness with each punchline.

Sometimes, when I'm thinking of something funny to say, I end up coming up with the punchline first, even though it's the last thing I say. Then I build the rest of the joke around it. I don't know how stand-up comedians work, but I feel like if I were one, I would work that way.

Being an editor for a living, I then take the punchline, work a setup around it, then edit it in my head so I can get the gist of the setup without excessively talking about it.

I don't have as many hard and fast rules, I think, for punchlines, other than make it funny. And, if it's not funny, make sure it's at least intelligent and makes sense with the rest of the joke.

I had a friend in high school who was really smart. He probably could have been like those internet company people who dropped out of high school because he was so smart. Because of this, he would have to explain his humor every so often to us because he would tell us jokes we just wouldn't get. But we knew he was funny regardless.

Wikimedia Commons surprises me with some
of the images they actually have, this being
a classic example.
He began a joke one day with, "A man walks into a psychiatrist's office naked except for Saran Wrap around himself. The psychiatrist looks at him and says, 'I can clearly see you're insane.'"

My group of friends and I didn't get it and gave each other quick looks of, "We don't get it, but we need to laugh so he doesn't think we're idiots." So we laughed.

A little while later, he says, "Wait! I told that joke wrong! The psychiatrist says, 'I can clearly see your/you're nuts!' Why did you guys laugh?"

We didn't really have an answer. The story then became infamous in our group of friends. And it made our friend, the joketeller, feel smart even though he messed up the joke. And the rest of us, well, from there, we had our friend explain the jokes to us and learned not to pretend we got them if we didn't.