A few days ago I was in New York City and overheard someone in the Times Square Subway station asking for directions to Carnegie Hall.
I had to fight the urge to say “How do you get to Carnegie Hall???? Practice, man, practice!”
It’s not often that you get to hear an old joke happening right before your ears.I love old jokes, especially the one and two liners I’ve heard a thousand times but they still tickle me whenever I hear them
.Like this lawyer joke:
Why don’t sharks eat lawyers?
Or this one:
How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?
How many can you afford?
Speaking of light bulb jokes, here’s another favorite:
How many Californians does it take to change a light bulb?
Five. One to change the bulb and four to share the experience
.And then there are the knock knock jokes. I loved those as a kid, even though they were all bad puns along the lines of “Dwayne. Dwayne Who? Dwayne the bathtub, I’m dwowning.”
Did you know that Shakespeare penned the lines “Knock Knock. Who’s there?” In Act 2, Scene 3 of MacBeth, a porter says:“Knock, knock! Who’s there, in th' other devil’s name? Faith, here’s an equivocator that could swear in both the scales against either scale, who committed treason enough for God’s sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven. O, come in, equivocator.”
It certainly gives that lowly joke genre a bit more respect, now, doesn't it?
People don’t tell jokes much these days. We are too sophisticated for knock knock jokes and most, if not all, light bulb jokes are offensive to some group or another. (How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb? One. And it’s not funny.) Now we find our humor in Facebook memes or viral videos of cats playing ping pong. It’s been ages since I’ve heard anyone say “A priest, a rabbi and a minister walk into a bar…”
Maybe it’s our super short attention span. No one has the patience to sit through a joke that requires some build up before getting to the punchline. Or maybe we’ve heard them all before.
But listeners to public radio still love to hear jokes. Every year, “A Prairie Home Companion” hosts its Joke Show, with one joke after another for two hours. Some fall flat, but there are quite a few zingers. And even the ones that make you groan are still fun.
So here’s my challenge for you--go old school. Instead of sharing the hilarious video of the bridal party falling into the water, or retweeting a somewhat humorous remark made by some famous comedian, tell a friend a real joke in real time. And if you don’t know any, "A Prairie Home Companion" has a treasure trove of great (and not so great) jokes that you can use.
Feel free to share your favorites in the comments section. I can always use a good laugh.