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The art of telling a joke

The Way I See It

November 2, 2011
By John Sheda , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Some folks have it; some don't. What is it that gives those few gifted people the art of telling the perfect joke? Is it the energy in which they tell it? Is it their magnetic personality? Most people I come across usually say that they just don't have the gift of telling jokes. Some even confess that they simply can't remember the way the joke goes or they forget the punch line. But still, we all make the feeble attempt to tell the perfect joke. Why am I bringing all this up today? Well, because I thought, (wrongly of course) that I could tell jokes. And I can.............it's just that they're not always very funny. Often when telling jokes I get what my son-in-law says are "sympathy laughs." I hate sympathy laughs but ya know, sympathy laughs are better than no laughs at all. At least I think they are. But here's why this is bugging me so much.

Every Friday, I head down to our local Senior Center, eat with the group, give a blessing over the dinner, call bingo and I always tell a joke. Always! Well, this last Friday I told a certain joke and I had one of those moments. Does anyone have moments? Like I do? Forty people, all with average intelligence, I presume, and with a fairly good sense of humor, just stared at me. Even after I told the joke and shared the magnificent (I thought) punch line!!! And then I made a inexcusable attempt to explain the joke and the punch line. Aha, now came the "sympathy laugh." And then I made a very crucial mistake. Yes, I know, this is about my third or fourth, but I re-tried to explain the joke. Deb has told me many times that to get out of the hole I'm in, I must first stop digging. When will I ever learn?

Now it's not that I'm vain or prideful or anything like that but I just couldn't for the life of me figure out how this joke at the Senior Center bombed. It was a darn good joke, of that I am sure. And I've told many jokes there before and actually have had people laugh. Heck, even an applause now and then when I've pushed for it. Now, it's not a big thing in the worldly scheme today. Presidential contender Herman Cain would gladly have my problem but none the less, it bugged me.

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So much did it bug me that going against every fiber of decency and common sense that is in me, at the very last moment, I decided to tell the joke again at Church on Sunday. Yep, still digging that darn hole. I don't for the life of me know what exactly came over me but as I was welcoming people to church, going over announcements, this joke popped into my mind and a voice, (perhaps God) telling me to share that same joke with the Congregation. And with very little decency and common sense, I told the joke. It is a darn good joke and I figured it was just a fluke that it flopped at the Senior Center.

Well, my good and faithful readers, it was no fluke! I told the story, built it up, had everyone waiting anxiously for the outcome and then came climatic ending of the punch line. And I got nothing! In fact, the reaction was worse here than at the Senior Center. My wife, my family, my good church friends.........all just stared at me. So, like the fool I am, I tried to explain the joke. How deep am I in this hole I've been digging? Why would I torture myself once again? Dad always told me that in our family, (2 brothers and one sister) that I wasn't the brightest light bulb in the package. But still, It is a darn good joke.

What? Really? You want to hear it? Are you sure? You're not just setting me up for another fall? Ok, maybe third time's a charm. Here goes. I take a deep breath and proceed. After all, it's a darn good joke.

"Deb and I go out to the van to go somewhere. When I get to the van, I notice that the keys have been inadvertantly locked inside the van. I work and work trying to unlock the door from the outside and ask Deb to go look for an extra set of keys in the house. After about ten minutes or so, Deb returns saying she couldn't find the extra keys. I am working furioulsy trying to open the driver's side door. Deb gets near the van and pulls on the passenger side door and "voila" the door opens. She yells to me, "Hun, look here, the door is open." I look at her completely perplexed and exclaim to her, "of course that door's open. I just got it unlocked and now I'm trying to get the driver's side unlocked."

Oh no.....not a third time. You see, I already opened the passenger side door and now................Oh, forget it! If your not laughing, you just don't have a funny bone. It's a darn good joke. Get to your doctor on Monday and have him check to see if you misplaced your funny bone. My brother, Tony, will laugh at it, if he can get away from his on-going debate with D.A. Benda.

Heck I bet even D.A. will laugh!! Have a great week. Haruumph! That's the way I see it. Let me know how you see it at jsheda@indytel.com or call me at 319.334.4117. IT'S A DARN GOOD JOKE!!

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