General Question

Kelly27's avatar

Are you able pull off telling a joke or do you end up butchering it in the delivery?

Asked by Kelly27 (1501points) May 3rd, 2009

I personally cannot tell a joke, it just doesn’t work for me.
What is the key to telling a good joke?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

29 Answers

eponymoushipster's avatar

sometimes i do.

but i’m more Seinfeld-ian in my humor, using observations, etc. joke jokes never come out quite right.

What’s the deal with Fluther? You’ve got Google, you’ve got wikipedia…

Supacase's avatar

I can come up with some funny one-liners off the cuff, but cannot tell a joke to save my life.

Jeruba's avatar

I’m not so bad for extemporaneous wisecracks and am pretty fast with an apt pun, but I have a repertoire of about three jokes and I think only those who love me best can find it in their hearts to laugh.

I can tell you that one key to telling a joke is remembering the punch line, but just as important is remembering all the critical elements, so that at punch line time you don’t have to go “Oh, yeah, and I forgot to tell you that….”

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I’m horrible with jokes. Rarely can I remember a good one well enough to tell it to other people.

Mtl_zack's avatar

I’m HORRIBLE at telling jokes. Or stories for that matter. I pretty much suck at anything in past tense. Now, explaining things is something I’m good at.

Aethelwine's avatar

My jokes usually come out of nowhere and are few and far between. If I am put on the spot, I’m at a loss for words. I hate being asked “Tell me a joke.”

Jayne's avatar

Gatorade makes a fortune off of people rehydrating from the full dryness of my humor. But if I tried to stumble my way through an actual joke, my audience would be gone before I finished.

casheroo's avatar

My humor is similar to @Jayne.‘s Usually just to mess with people, spur of the moment. If I’m telling a joke, that I most likely had to gets butchered. I either start laughing before I get to the punchline, or completely just screw it up.

peedub's avatar

Sometimes I eff it up by laughing prematurely, a reason I was never good at extended prank calls.

asmonet's avatar

Sometimes I butcher a solid joke on purpose, to make everyone awkwardly try and laugh for my benefit.

I find this immensely funny.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@asmonet you’re a weird bird, asmo

asmonet's avatar

Not the first time I’ve been accused. ;)

Jeruba's avatar

@eponymoushipster, let’s hear what standard you’re using for weirdness.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@Jeruba my own mighty awesomeness. ;)

Jeruba's avatar

@eponymoushipster, you’ve got the gold there.

Jack79's avatar

I butcher it quite often actually, especially if I don’t remember it that well. But I can tell at least half of them pretty well.

augustlan's avatar

I’ve got 3 or so that I can tell. They are, for the most part, about one level above a knock-knock joke. My general humor is more observational and sarcastic, and a lot of people don’t get that, either. I am also inadvertently funny far more often than I’d like. :(

oratio's avatar

You know, it doesn’t matter as much what you say as how you say it. Some people are just immensely funny, and another person saying the exact same thing is not. You can train it, by studying what rhythm, intonation and body language makes things funny.

Gifted people can make anything funny, even if it’s in the context of something awful. I don’t think there is anything you can’t joke about, but one has to do it right to not insult peoples feelings in a personal context. On stage it’s often a part of the act though.

I am a one-line joker. I have accepted that I can’t retell stories or events that has been funny and deliver the humor of it to others. A friend of mine can retell the same story but he makes it so funny.

It also dependens on expectation. If a person is expected to be funny and you expect to laugh, laughter comes easy.

delirium's avatar

Butcher. Utterly.
I can quip, but I can’t be performatively funny.

Fuck you, it’s a word now.

dalepetrie's avatar

I’m going to say Jeruba has had the best advice so far…it’s important you remember the key elements and the punch line. I’m a joke teller from way back…if there’s a dirty joke (well, they’re not ALL dirty, just the best ones), I probably know it. The details are important, the peripheral info isn’t so much…many jokes have inter-changable elements, but you have to really know that punch line and why it’s funny…what in the body of the joke ties back to it…those are the important details…extraneous information can be played with until you are comfortable.

One thing is of course to be comfortable…they say the key to comedy is timing, and that’s true even with jokes, at least to a lesser extent…if you don’t have the listener’s rapt attention, the joke won’t come off, and part of that is it’s a natural pattern. Basically, if you can tell a story, you can tell a joke, but a lot of people get lost in their stories as well…you just need the order of things down so you can tell it convincingly. I personally like to tell jokes without saying they’re jokes…trying to personalize them in some way, so instead of “a guy walks into a bar”, I might say, “one time in college I was hanging out with my buddy, Dave (or other generic name here), and we went to a place called the Corner Bar. Well then, they think you’re telling a story and they listen up. But if you forget key elements, start laughing at your own joke before it’s told, etc., you will lose it. There’s some jokes you have to be really good to get away with and others just about anyone can do. The simplest jokes for example are just ask a question, wait for the person to say “I don’t know” and then lay the punch line on them.

You: “How do you keep a moron in suspense?”
Friend: “How”
You: “Tell you in an hour.”

Anyone can pull that off if the person has never heard that one before. However, here’s one you have to be really good to pull off.

You: “A jackass and a horse were walking together in a field. The jackass had drank plenty of water before they went on their excursion, but the horse wasn’t quite hydrated enough, so he kept complaining that he was thirsty. The jackass told the horse it was only a few short miles to their destination where there would be all the clean, safe drinking water they could handle, so the horse should just buck up and resist the temptation to drink from any puddles they might see, because there was acid rain in these parts, and the runoff could have made the puddles toxic. But sure enough, the FIRST puddle they come to, the horse goes up and starts to drink out of it, and the jackass says, ‘stop, horse…that could be poison,’ and the horse replies, ‘shut up, jackass, I know what I’m doing.’ So the horse drinks the little water that is in the puddle and they continue on, but he is still extremely thirsty. The jackass reassures the horse, that it’s not much farther to all the clean, safe drinking water they can handle, and the horse should resist the temptation to drink out of any more puddles…he got lucky THAT time, but best not to push his luck. So they walk a little ways longer, and the horse spies a SECOND puddle and starts to take a drink out of it, and the jackass yells, ‘HORSE, don’t drink out of there, it could be POISON.’ To which the horse replies, ‘SHUT UP jackass, I know what I“m doing.’ Once again, the horse drinks all the water out of this second puddle before they continue on, and once again, the jackass tells the horse how lucky he is to have survived two times in a row, but not to tempt the fates, no way, he’s going to get luck a THIRD time, he’d better not push it, now they’re probably less than a mile from all the clean, safe drinking water they can handle, so please, horse, the jackass says, please don’t stop at ANY more puddles. So, they keep going, and sure enough, they come to a SECOND puddle, and…”

Now this is the point where your friend will interrupt you, and say, “don’t you mean the THIRD puddle?” If they don’t, you have to get them to do it, maybe question yourself in hushed tones, “second one, right…yeah, second…”, and if that doesn’t work, just keep going with the joke as if you stumbled and didn’t realize it and were only telling about the second puddle….then when you should be at the fourth, or at least the third, you can AGAIN say, “SECOND”, and they’ll HAVE to stop you…it’s just human nature…it may take some good timing to be convincing though, and that’s why this is a hard joke to tell.

Now, the reason you have to be good to tell this joke is that you want the person to correct you, and at this point, you might need to improvise. But, if you’ve told the joke well enough, hammered down the point that there was a FIRST puddle, and a SECOND puddle, and the jackass was telling the horse that he’d gotten lucky TWO times and wouldn’t get luck a THIRD…you’d led them to correct you at this point. Because of course, as soon as your friend says, “don’t you mean the THIRD puddle?” you say…..

“SHUT UP JACKASS…I know what I’m doing!”

A skill like anything else…you can learn it, you just need to practice, and boy have I practiced.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

If someone asks you to tell them a joke just say their name.. then say “get it? cuz.. you’re a joke… right? ............... i got nothin.”

actually that’s a horrible idea.. don’t do it

Blondesjon's avatar

I’ve been telling funny little jokes and stories since my days on the plantation. I like to keep smiles on the childrens faces with tales of Brer Fox, Brer Rabbit, and Brer Bear. I have no young ones of my own but they all refer to me as their Uncle.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Sure, I can do it. My main thing is the same as in any good bit of storytelling: look people in the eye as you tell it, drawing them in. And pause for a beat or two to give what you’re saying a moment to sink in. Your listener(s) will then feel “invested” in what you’re saying.

efritz's avatar

Unfortunately, I can only tell a joke if it’s spontaneous or whatever . . . if I think about it too much it’s not funny. Also I can’t laugh at my own jokes, which confuses people, which is actually be pretty amusing.

Heroine_of_underdogs's avatar

I don’t tell jokes often, but when I do, I can tell em rigfht to the end….BUT, pple don’t seem to GET them….:-;?

oratio's avatar

@Heroine_of_underdogs They probably get them, but that you are bad at telling jokes. Often so am I. I can’t tell interesting stories, so I do one-liners. That works. Some people are good at telling jokes, some people are not. I can be learned. I am sure you have plenty of other good qualities though.

lovable's avatar

You have to say the joke full of life. The joke can’t be said in a boring way. The way you say it has to also go with the joke.

Blondesjon's avatar

@lovable . . . tell that to stephen wright

snowberry's avatar

I’m pretty good. Every once in a while I mess up, but for the most part my punch line is right on cue.

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