We have a grownup friend with the sense of humor of an 11-year-old-boy. He lives in another city, but that doesn’t stop him: he likes to phone us and tell us jokes from the kids’ section of the Sunday cartoon supplement and now he’s purchased a joke book filled with this kind of half-baked humor. Throughout the day, he calls and tells one of them to whichever one of us in unlucky enough to answer the phone before we notice the call ID.

An additional problem is that he is a TERRIBLE joke-teller–he does not know how to deliver either the set up or the punch line–so even if they ARE funny, they don’t come off that way.

When his jokes are greeted by an embarrassed silence on our part, he gets pissed off and accuses us of not laughing INTENTIONALLY. He was in town the other night, so we asked him to join us when we went to a concert with some other friends, and he decided to conduct a test: During the pre-concert champagne mingling, he took one of these friends aside and told him joke after joke, one after the other, while our friend (as might be expected) kept a completely straight face during the whole ordeal. I was lurking nearby, waiting to rescue the poor guy, so I witnessed the entire fiasco.

I’m not sure if our friend presented a serious visage to the jokester on purpose or not–if he did, he ought to change careers and become a professional straight man. There used to be a bunch of these guys around, in TV comedy series and movies, but it doesn’t seem to be a role that anyone plays anymore.

I always get up earlier in the morning than Whitley does, make myself a cup of tea and get to work. This morning my assignment was to begin to begin read Whitley’s new novel (a work in progress).

He had left the manuscript pages on my desk. When I took them out to my reclining chair in the living room, I noticed a single page from our printer lying on the seat of his chair, which is next to mine. I assumed it was another one of our friend’s horrible jokes, and I thought to myself, "Damn it, NOW Whitley’s started PRINTING THEM UP–if he’s the unfortunate one who picked up the phone–and leaving them out so I HAVE to pay attention them too!"

However, when I read it, I realized that it wasn’t a joke, it was some dialogue that he’d wanted to add to his book–he’d printed it out so he could insert it into the right place in his computer file and just happened to leave the page on the chair.

So the real joke was on me. I wonder: If our friend the jokester knew about this, would he think it was funny?

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  1. Hm. I bought a joke book for
    Hm. I bought a joke book for my grandson, but…could this actually be a disguised reference to me? But no, my jokes are funny. They are. No?

  2. A termite walks into a bar
    A termite walks into a bar and asks, “Is the bartender here?”

  3. If this guy is such a
    If this guy is such a crashing bore, why do you keep answering his calls? Aren’t you just enabling him?

  4. Actually Whitley, when I read
    Actually Whitley, when I read the title of this Diary entry, I assumed you were in trouble again over another prank. 😉

  5. Made my day… Love it.
    Made my day… Love it. Whitley has such a dramatic voice (probably because I only listen to him talking about dramatic stuff – Pavlovian response I guess) I wonder how jokes come across 🙂

  6. Just yesterday a friend and I
    Just yesterday a friend and I were walking into a restaurant laughing about something silly. We apologized to the waitress, as we almost knocked her down, we were laughing so hard.
    The waitress said, “Never apologize for laughing! It keeps you young and healthy! Laugh as much as you can!”
    Ann, your friend is welcome to call me with his jokes!

  7. Ann, you might try buying
    Ann, you might try buying your humor-impaired friend a copy of books like “Comedy Writing Secrets” (http://www.amazon.com/Comedy-Writing-Secrets-Think-Funny/dp/0898795109).

    I read this several years ago, and it got to the point where I could watch a sitcom, “see” a joke coming, laugh at it when I thought of it, and *not* laugh when the joke arrived.

    As you might guess, I got a few looks when I was laughing when no one else was, and more looks when I wasn’t laughing when everyone else was!

    Still, the book covers several “rules of comedy,” the basics of constructing a joke, and will probably help him to tell better — and more mature! — jokes.

    Good luck with this one!

  8. The book mentioned above
    The book mentioned above might help this guy, but he needs help in other areas. He could stand to learn some discretion in what jokes to tell, whom to tell them to, and especially!!!! how often to call his friends and expect them to drop everything to listen to these jokes. If only he had the good manners you have, he would know that he is imposing on your time and patience. I applaud you for your friendship and tact, but sometimes we really DO have to be blunt with those who don’t take a hint. If he is a good friend, just tell him you have things to do everyday, and do not want to take the time for this. If he has a joke or two to share, he can post it on Facebook, and check back later to see if anyone liked it.

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