This morning I was standing in line waiting for my car to get serviced at the dealership, and as there isn’t much else to do while waiting in line – I eavesdropped. In the fifteen minutes I waited my turn, I heard the guy in front of me tell the same joke to first the receptionist, then the service man, and then the cashier. And although it made me smile to myself the first time around, it wears off quickly when you’re forced to hear it thrice.
There are many breeds of jokester in the world, some are the variety you always invite to your dinner parties, and some are otherwise fantastic human beings caught in misguided efforts of hilarity:
The Funny Guy: This guy is funny. He knows it, his friends know it, and everyone within earshot of your table at Cheesecake Factory knows it. Waitresses love him, teachers fear him, and no one throws popcorn at him when he yells at the screen in a movie theater.
The Punster: Ever since, “orange you glad I didn’t say banana,” if there is a pun to be had in a ten-mile radius, the Punster can smoke it out. Beware of jokes that begin, “a duck walked into a bar,” and never ever let a Punster name your children.
The Did-You-Hear-Me Guy: When his joke falls flat in a crowd, the only explanation is that nobody heard it. Did-You-Hear-Me Guy will wait for the next pause and repeat his joke in increasing volume until someone either laughs or says, “Dude, we heard you the first time.”
The Laugher: It’s possible there’s a Funny Guy lurking in there somewhere, but The Laugher can’t stop cracking up long enough to tell his own joke. You’re compelled to laugh right along with The Laugher, but the longer the ramp up the more likely you’re in the presence of a “You Had to Be There.”
The You Had to Be There: The You Had to Be There looks a lot like The Laugher, yet there is often an inverse ratio of laughter to actual hilarity, and once the tears start to trickle you know you’re about to hear a long winded inside joke featuring PG-13 high school hijinks and some guy he swears looks exactly like Will Ferrell that builds and builds and eventually ends with the most sidesplitting punch line of all time, “You had to be there.”
The Plagiarizer: Maybe it’s from the internet, maybe it’s from a movie, maybe it’s from a book of bathroom humor, but if this guy says anything of comedic value you know he heard it somewhere else. His jokes often revolve around politics and Polish gentlemen climbing trees.
The Smart Ass: A Funny Guy in wolf’s clothing, the Smart Ass often ticks off half the room while the other half falls out of their chairs. Smart Asses prey on weak punch lines and soft storytelling so you best step up your jokester game if you intend to attempt wit in his presence. Did-You-Hear-Me Guys should not socialize with Smart Asses.
The Chameleon: Thanksgiving with the family brings out the lovable Punster, bar weekends bring out the Smart Ass, and The You Had to Be There emerges during awkward first dates. The Chameleon knows his audience, and hits funny bones accordingly.
While I try to err on the side of Smart Ass, I’m also a recovering You-Had-To-Be There. My premature laughter morphs into waterfalls of tears – sometimes even hiccups – before I can spit out my not-that-funny joke. I’m now an evolved enough jokester to know that if I’m choking on my own tongue with saline-stained cheeks that I need to just skip the yarn and go straight to the “You had to be there.”
What kind of jokester are you?