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the sidebar » Blog Archive » Joke-telling
By Half-Handed Cloud
Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

People say that sometimes it’s good to make-up a little joke to tell during a performance to, you know, "lighten the mood" or whatever. Also it gives the audience something to focus on while you’re tuning instruments. This has always sounded like solid advice to me but I’ll tell you what folks, I’ve got a lot to learn!

Can’t remember my first attempt at joke-writing, but I made-up a second one for Nedelle to text-message to her brother during a particularly stressful finals week, and this is the first one that I tried to tell from the stage a few months later:

Q: What do you call a waffle at the beach?
A: San Diego!
(Get it? Is it a joke or a riddle? Who cares, it’s magical!)

My third (and final) pass at show-joke-telling happened in Louisville KY on the tour Half-h did last Spring with Liz Janes/Create(!). The show (at a small, brightly-lit bar) started in a sort of rough way–about a dozen under-21 people were turned-away at the door. So we were bummed about that but then a little voice seemed to say, "Why don’t you let a joke erase those blues, little buddy?"

(Before getting into the telling of this final joke, I wonder, what are the ingredients of a good one? Most of my humor probably checks its books out of the "What if…?" section of the library, but could jokes really be as easy as this simple equation:

Common points of familiarity + environment + slight absurdity = funny?)

So Justin and I set-up our instruments and were about to play as I remembered one of the things that Louisville was famous for, took note of the bar’s particle-board walls and said, "Hey, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but this entire bar is made from recycled Louisville Slugger baseball bats, what are the chances?!?" …No response, except for blank stares and possibly a hint of "Now we will beat you up for making fun of us." We were the only ones laughing (nervous laughter?). I wondered, "Did they even hear me? If they heard me, they would be laughing, right?" and proceeded to re-tell this bombed joke to the exact same reaction. Boy, that was a fun night!

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