A perfect joke receipt

Is there such a thing as a perfect joke receipt? Even just a good one?

The answer will definitely vary from one person to another, but there are still some vital ingredients that one trying to make others laugh can’t skip.

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A lot depends on the auditoria and the effect you want to make on them. Ever since being a kid my cousin, who is the same age as me, was really witty. He was one of those boys who started learning on his own quite early and grew up into a very smart person.

His jokes were always fast and sharp. And they almost seemed like magic to me. But if look closer, like in other literature genres it was all about techniques, accelerated by fast thinking.

There are a few types of jokes.

Wordplays are known to be the easiest and most popular ones. All you do is you take words that sound similar but have different meanings and play with them.

What’s ET short for? Legs.

Or

Why cows wear bells? Because their horns don’t work.

Or

Two antennas met on a roof, fell in love and got married. The ceremony wasn't much, but the reception was brilliant.

When used at the right time, for the right audience even those quite silly and simple examples may make people smile.

A sign of a good joke is unforeseen ending when we expect one final, but get caught in laughs with something completely different. In other words, humour to a point is an enemy of stamps, cliché and stereotypes (if twisted all of these can make for a funny joke). But the rule of thumb is to make a good joke, you need to think out of the box.

There are a few ways to have an unexpected ending. You can add a word that is stylistically different, or you can take an idiom and change the last part, thus alternating the meaning.

You don’t need a parachute to go skydiving. You need a parachute to go skydiving twice.

Or…

Just say NO to drugs. Well, if I’m talking to my drugs I probably already said yes.

Or …

Pilot: (over intercom) We’re all gonna die. Passengers: start freaking out. Pilot: All of us will one day, no one knows when. Passengers: sigh with relief. Pilot: But it'll probably be when we hit this mountain.

Somehow really simple or silly jokes happen to be some of the funniest. They feel like they were born in the world of absurd. Which makes sense. If we laugh when the logic unexpectedly cracks, and the absence of logic is even more unexpected, so it makes us laugh even more. 

As silly as it is, but one of my husband’s favourites “What time is it? Ten to. Ten to what? None of you business,” still makes me at least smile every time he makes it. Why? I have no idea. Just because it’s silly.

Another one:

Why is the ocean blue? Because all the little fish go blu, blu, blu.

Like with everything else in life, sex and obscene language spice things up. Racist, chauvinist and other sensitive topics may make people laugh again depending on the audience and the professionalism of the joker. But it’s good to remember that animals show their teeth to either scare the other party or while defending. We have come a long ways from that but that ancient instinct is still somewhat there. Thus, offensive jokes still make us smile or even laugh once in a while. Usually, it happens either when jokes are either targeting the group we belong to or the one we are opposed to. And if overused they more likely will make the auditoria think about the underlying problems, which are not funny at all in most cases.

How you tell jokes is also important. Depending on the mood and intonations jokes will have different effects, but I don’t think there is a wrong way. Positive mood usually gets picked up faster, but poker-face jokers have the double effect when they make jokes.

I guess, there is no such a thing as a perfect joke receipt, as a lot depends on the audience and atmosphere. One way or the other, to make people laugh you either need to be quite intelligent and have a rich vocabulary at the top of your head, or have a great memory and good sense of humour. And please, don’t explain the jokes.

© Copyright Estevan Mercury

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