16 March 2014 @ 06:14 pm
LJ Idol Season 9: "Tell Me No Stories"  
Tell Me No Stories
real lj idol season 9 | week one | 680 words
Jayus (From Indonesian, meaning a joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh.)

x-x-x-x-x

My daughter recently asked me what kinds of jokes my Dad used to tell when I was growing up, and could I think of any examples?

Oh, boy. My Dad especially loves jokes with long, convoluted setups that invariably lead to puns. As in, five-minute yarns where the punch line involves "transporting gulls across staid lions for immortal porpoises."** (Yes, really). He has a silly streak, and enjoys wit and satire, but what he really likes is performing long-winded jokes for an audience. Those childhood experiences were enough to completely put me off that kind of humor, and they turned puns into a kind of torture. Nobody else in the family tells jokes now except my brother, and even his are shorter and less painful.

Imagine—my poor mother has had to laugh at those same, stale stories for over fifty years!

The person doing the telling can make a big difference. A young nephew once tried to relay something to me at a holiday dinner. He was about eight then, and started to tell me his "scary story," but then quickly abandoned it for his "backup scary story":

Nephew: There was a man, and a woman, and another man. And they were married.
Me: What, all of them?
Nephew: Yyyeah…

I don't remember where that story went, or even if he ever finished it, but he was a hilarious little kid and the whole idea of a "backup scary story" with somewhat fuzzy details was just so perfectly him.

I generally prefer anecdotal humor, or things in the realm of irony, satire, or absurdity (or even better, all three at once—the trifecta!) Give me the Futurama episode where the purple, six-armed chef suddenly demonstrates the use of a "spice weasel," or the one where the outdoor outfitters' store pulls a fully-laden burro down from the rafters, and I will burst out laughing. The weirder the idea, the better. As a teen, I was utterly hooked on the Monty Python reruns on our local PBS station.

Regale me with your doom-spiral of a day plagued by Murphy's Law, or that one time there was something you really shouldn't have said but did. I'll be right there with you all the way. But traditional jokes just make me cringe.

Dad told a story a few years ago that actually made me laugh, one I hadn't heard before:

The summer he turned fourteen, he and his older brother rode to town in the farm truck one day to run errands. His brother spotted some kids from the local high school driving around, so he pulled up next to them. My father knew that would lead nowhere good. He got down on the floor of the truck and hid, sticking his head up through a big hole in the dashboard. His brother talked with the kids for a bit, then mentioned that he had a younger brother who was about to start high school but was kind of shy, and could probably use some friends. "And here he is!" he said, reaching over and opening the glovebox, revealing my Dad's horrified face.

My Dad about died, but seventy years later he found the whole thing hysterical. Leave it to that particular brother to create an embarrassing situation and then find a way to make it worse.

My own home is full of conversations featuring wordplay or snark, or random quotes from various movies and TV shows (Say Anything, The Princess Bride, and Tremors are some of the more common source material). Your dry or twisted humor may fuel my entire day!

But if you're going to tell me jokes, go the route of my brother-in-law, whose specialty is unintentionally incorporating the punch line during the early part of the setup.

No matter what the point is supposed to be, the mangled delivery is unfailingly funny!


--/--

** For those of you outside the U.S., or from younger generations, there used to be laws about transporting girls across state lines for immoral purposes. Doesn't make the joke any funnier, does it?


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( 77 comments — Say what you feel )
Desireex_disturbed_x on March 17th, 2014 01:22 am (UTC)
I may need to try some of these techniques to tell jokes. :P

When I read about the dashboard story I cracked up laughing. Do you know what happened after his face was revealed?
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 17th, 2014 04:03 am (UTC)
Avoid telling jokes, that's my recommendation!

I don't know what ultimately happened after my Dad's face was revealed other than that he was mortified. But I'd be willing to be that he pulled his head down and curled up ion the floor like a hedgehog, where no part could be seen.

There was another story involving that brother, the farm truck, and a load of chicken manure they were transporting from their farm to a buyer. And the brother driving through town too fast while my Dad told him to slow down, and the manure sliding out of the truck and coating one of the town's main intersections. The older brother clearly was not easily embarrassed, but the same could not be said for my Dad!
(no subject) - x_disturbed_x on March 17th, 2014 11:19 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on March 17th, 2014 04:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Vice Captain of the Universe: I'm a llama again!sweeny_todd on March 17th, 2014 01:38 am (UTC)
<3 Futurama *is* hilarious.

The teller of a joke definitely makes a difference!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 17th, 2014 04:05 am (UTC)
You probably love The Simpsons too, as I do. :D

Little kids screwing up jokes is inevitable and always funny. That particular nephew was kind of a riot. :D
Jennkickthehobbit on March 17th, 2014 01:52 am (UTC)
I love shaggy dog stories (what your dad was telling), but I will admit that they get grating after a while, and most of my "jokes" are more funny anecdotes than jokes.

nice entry!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 17th, 2014 04:06 am (UTC)
My jokes are usually anecdotes, too. Those, I actually find funny. Setup jokes, though... how I hate them!
Ink Well: History Channelpenpusher on March 17th, 2014 02:09 am (UTC)
Thanks for the reminder that some jokes just take three score and one decade to ripen to perfection!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 17th, 2014 04:06 am (UTC)
:D Or that a good story is funnier than a lengthy joke where the payoff is a bad pun!

Thanks for reading. :D
similiesslipsimiliesslip on March 17th, 2014 03:33 am (UTC)
I enjoyed this window into your family and into what you enjoy. And honestly, having to be married to TWO men DOES sound very scary to me ;)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 17th, 2014 04:07 am (UTC)
The funny part is that I'll bet the being married had nothing to do with the story-- it was a detail that my nephew threw in that immediately self-combusted. :D
cindy: cartoon headtsuki_no_bara on March 17th, 2014 05:14 am (UTC)
i love that your nephew had (has?) backup scary stories. just in case!

i actually like shaggy dog jokes, because they end in puns and i like a good pun, but i also like anecdotal jokes like the one about your dad and his brother and the glove box. hee.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: heh-hehhalfshellvenus on March 17th, 2014 06:52 am (UTC)
I think you probably have to like puns to like those longer stories. Puns seem to be a "love them or hate them" form of humor (like mango as a flavor. Very few people have a neutral opinion on mango!)

I wish my Dad had told more anecdotal jokes when I was growing up, but most of them involve embarrassing things that have happened to the narrator. Maybe he just wasn't ready, all those years ago, to have himself be the butt of the joke!
Dan: Peregrinemuchtooarrogant on March 17th, 2014 12:15 pm (UTC)
"Doesn't make the joke any funnier, does it?"

Awww, I think you're too hard on your dad. I've heard that particular joke a hundred times, and reading it here still made me grin for a second. Of course, just look at my entry...

The glove compartment prank was excellent. I can see one of my older brothers doing something just like that.

Perhaps because I do so much flying, one of my favorite Monty Python eps involves a plane. First class seating is beautiful, classical music's playing, and everyone's relaxed and comfortable. In coach, the roar of the engines is so loud you can't hear people talk, and indignity is piled on indignity, until... The back of the plane sheers off. Sucks to be them!

Dan
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 17th, 2014 05:15 pm (UTC)
I've heard that particular joke a hundred times, and reading it here still made me grin for a second.

See, now, that would make my Dad very happy. One of his goals earlier in life was to concoct dreadful jokes like that, and see if (years down the road) someone attempted to tell him his own joke!

I can't be certain that one is his, but there were others that were similar that would loop back around. Which I do not understand, because they were so horribly convoluted, and ended in such cascaded, ridiculous puns. Ugh! How are those funny? Personally, I would let a joke like that die a natural death.

I think I need to watch Monty Python again, because I don't remember that skit! My parents gave me the entire boxed set for Christmas awhile back, and my son and I worked our way through all of them about a year or two ago. He would LOVE to restart the whole set and rewatch it. :)
(no subject) - muchtooarrogant on March 17th, 2014 10:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
adoptedwriteradoptedwriter on March 17th, 2014 12:33 pm (UTC)
That dashboard story is pretty funny! AW
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: heh-hehhalfshellvenus on March 17th, 2014 05:16 pm (UTC)
It actually was! I think the message there, too, is that there is no place safe from a brother with that kind of sense of humor. :O
kick_galvanic, zagzagael, skull_theatrebleodswean on March 17th, 2014 02:24 pm (UTC)
HEE~! That story about your dad as a boy was hysterical! Well written! Yeah, the mangled jokes are the funniest, but the joke Quentin tells in Desperado is the best evah -

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: heh-hehhalfshellvenus on March 17th, 2014 05:49 pm (UTC)
I love the expressions on Cheech's face, and the guy on the phone.

Cheech especially-- so subdued, but the "Why? God, make it stop..." is so evident. :D
solstice_singer on March 17th, 2014 05:16 pm (UTC)
I kind of like the idea of a backup scary story. Lol.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: heh-hehhalfshellvenus on March 17th, 2014 06:17 pm (UTC)
Me too! That phrasing was the funniest part!
furzicle: pic#92673637furzicle on March 17th, 2014 07:43 pm (UTC)
We used to have these huge (120 people)Thanksgiving family reunions. As part of that, there was always a talent show. One year a 6 year old boy brought the house down with his recurring punch line. Joke after joke ended with "A noodle." The jokes were non-existant but the punch line brought gales of laughter with every delivery. 40 years later, we can still toss out the phrase, "A noodle" and get a round of laughter from the family.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 17th, 2014 07:50 pm (UTC)
We have far too many inside jokes in my family (especially the family of me, my husband, and kids), but sometimes they're the best ones. They're shorthand for entire experiences. :D
witchwifewitchwife on March 17th, 2014 08:52 pm (UTC)
That story about your dad and the dashboard cracked me up. It's funny from every angle you look at it!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 17th, 2014 09:35 pm (UTC)
Probably except from the vantage point of the kid being revealed as the kind of weirdo who would have his head peering out of a glovebox!

But funny after the fact.

I really feel for him. I don't think I'd have gone anywhere in public with that brother ever again, after that. It was not the only incident!
blahblahblah, whateverkathrynrose on March 17th, 2014 10:31 pm (UTC)
I didn't realize the immortal porpoises joke was so widely known. I briefly considered basing my entry on it. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 17th, 2014 11:16 pm (UTC)
Oh my god, WHY do other people know that joke? I hated that joke so much. Why would anyone ever spread it around?

Well, I guess it proves that a lot of other people have my Dad's sense of humor. Just not me. ;) :D
i_will_not_say: Teacup Rosei_will_not_say on March 18th, 2014 02:34 am (UTC)
I like the idea of a "backup scary story." :)

I also found it cool that the characters in said story were in what appeared to be a polyamorous marriage, from what I could tell (unless they were all married to spouses not mentioned in the story).
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 18th, 2014 03:08 am (UTC)
Yes, I think the polyamory was a side-effect of my nephew throwing an unnecessary detail into his story and then not paying attention to where it led! :D
Your Facekandigurl on March 18th, 2014 03:29 am (UTC)
My mom and I have a collection of inside jokes in the form of movie quotes as well. :)

I enjoyed this! If you hate puns, don't look up My Drunk Kitchen.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 18th, 2014 06:21 am (UTC)
It's funny how those quotes can become their own language, or at least, useful shorthand. I can't tell you how many times, the approximated quote of "By choice!" "Yeah, man, by choice!" has come up for when someone is doing something obviously lame. And "Like Joe and I. Were Ripped. Apart" gets a lot of use. Joe is a very popular name in TV shows. :D

I think puns were always painful to me, but my Dad's jokes just amplified the pain over the years. Loony humor, though? Bring it on! :D
Teo Sayseternal_ot on March 18th, 2014 09:26 am (UTC)
Haha...the back up scary story was kinda cute...and loved the dashboard incident...nice read!!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: heh-hehhalfshellvenus on March 18th, 2014 04:48 pm (UTC)
Somehow, I don't think my nephew ever finished the backup scary story. More like, "Yada-yada-yada-yada-ooh, turkey leg!"

Thanks for reading!
(no subject) - eternal_ot on March 19th, 2014 05:32 am (UTC) (Expand)
C.xitsjustc on March 18th, 2014 11:02 am (UTC)
haha. I enjoyed reading this.
That story about your dad and the dashboard made me giggle.


Edited at 2014-03-18 11:02 am (UTC)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 18th, 2014 04:50 pm (UTC)
My poor Dad. That was his oldest brother, who would have been at least 20 years older than him. The notion of what it feels like to be 14, and in that situation, must have been lonnnng gone by then. Hence, the evil humor. :D
rayasorayaso on March 18th, 2014 04:00 pm (UTC)
I loved this, especially the story about your father and the pickup truck. A great anecdote. The concept of a "back-up" scary story is wonderful. We should all have one. Of course, that means having a primary scary story ready as well.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 18th, 2014 04:51 pm (UTC)
I really think the primary scary story was one he didn't remember, so he bailed out in favor of the backup story... and probably had no idea where that was going either!
i_17bingoi_17bingo on March 18th, 2014 04:52 pm (UTC)
No matter what the point is supposed to be, the mangled delivery is unfailingly funny!

I laugh the hardest when this happens.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 18th, 2014 04:54 pm (UTC)
It is always better than the actual joke! :D
Jemima Paulerjem0000000 on March 18th, 2014 07:41 pm (UTC)
We used to have a problem with people sneaking over the border and getting married without parental permission -- apparently, we required both parents' permission for an underage marriage, and the state just south of us only needed one. Last I checked, we still had a (thankfully unused, these days) law on the books allowing us not to recognize their marriages because of it.

Some people really like hearing a joke over and over -- my mom's that way. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 18th, 2014 08:24 pm (UTC)
Some people really like hearing a joke over and over -- my mom's that way. :)

Lucky for her! It drove me nuts listening to the repeats just as a kid, and a spouse would have a lot more years to put up with those. :D
Kellykajel on March 18th, 2014 08:03 pm (UTC)
A backup scary story, that is awesome. Nicely done!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 18th, 2014 08:25 pm (UTC)
It says loads about that particular kid, too, doesn't it? He was highly entertaining in those early years. :D
n3m3sis43n3m3sis43 on March 19th, 2014 12:46 am (UTC)
They don't have the laws about transporting minors across state lines anymore? Okay, I feel old.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 19th, 2014 12:54 am (UTC)
They probably still have the law, but I don't think people talk about it anymore. So, the punchline would be a double "Huh?"

I'm not even sure it was minors. Taking a woman across a state border for purposes of prostitution would have qualified, too.
tatdatcmtatdatcm on March 20th, 2014 02:30 am (UTC)
Loved the backup scary story.

I don't mind a good pun, but I'm more of a fan of dry, sarcastic humor.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 20th, 2014 03:54 am (UTC)
That's my kind of humor, too. Though I'm not sure I've ever met a good pun, except accidentally! :D
Good old captain crazy-pantsdreamsreflected on March 20th, 2014 03:33 am (UTC)
this had a really genuine feel to it. very enjoyable.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 20th, 2014 03:55 am (UTC)
Thank you! It's all true, too, including my Dad's mortification at the hands of his brother all those years ago.

Thanks for reading. :)
We're flat broke, but hey - we do it in style....: Glitchkshandra on March 20th, 2014 04:47 am (UTC)
I'd always heard the joke as sedate lions, m'self. Not that it helps.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 20th, 2014 05:05 am (UTC)
"Staid" is closer to the sound of "state," and even more convoluted and groanworthy to convey. As in, really-- who uses that word in regular conversation?

That really is one of the more contrived ones, which probably just made my Dad like it all the better. Yick!
( 77 comments — Say what you feel )
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