They say that nothing removes the humor from a joke like analysis.  The people that say that didn’t seem to notice “anal” in the word analysis. That’s always good for a laugh or two in middle school.  And maybe that’s the time period many of us stop thinking of new ways to be funny.  We repeat jokes we heard before we could legally buy spray paint on our own.  Repetition without thought, yes without analysis, causes a big problem.  Here are some examples:

  • You’re mowing your lawn and someone pulls up, rolls down their window, and waves until you stop mowing and says “when you’re done, you can do mine?”  Substitute any chore for mowing the lawn. 
  • You’re sweating and uncomfortable in the brutal walk-on-the-surface-of-the-sun days of July and someone says, “Hot enough for ya?”
  • You get a haircut and someone asks if you got your ears lowered.  
  • You are a tall person, and someone asks you “how’s the weather up there?”
  • In the check-out line at the grocery store, a friend behind you notices your presence.  As you put your items on the belt, the friend smiles and says, “you can pay for mine, too.”

Invariably the joke makers in these situations laugh in an exaggerated fashion, imagining that they have just invented these knee slappers and that you will join them in laughter.   Resist any social urge to respond positively.  We cannot encourage this behavior any longer. Not being funny is not a crime.  Trying too hard to be funny when you’re not funny should be.  Such acts of verbal malfeasance instill sadness in the unfortunate listener, and there is already too much sadness in the world. And please don’t be offended if you think I just accused you of criminal activity. We can all be guilty from time to time. This article is about helping, not blaming.

To find out how to solve this problem of anti-jokes and make it easy for everyone to learn to be funny, I consulted the modern oracle:  Google.  I simply asked it how to avoid being unfunny.

On page one of the search results into humankind’s combined and collected knowledge I found very little that was useful.  Quora differentiates between being funny and having a sense of humor.  The first is being able to make others laugh and the second is being able to find things funny.  Yea, ok.   Not what I’m after.

So I go to Psychology Today to learn about humor style.  Perhaps, these folks who offer up anit-jokes just suffer from a bad sense of style.  Their jokes are the black beach socks of summer.  Immediately I am distracted by the feature image that accompanies the article.  The cover of the magazine in which the piece originally appeared shows a blond woman looking up and to the right (must have something to do with which part of the brain controls humor) wearing a jester’s hat.  People who wear jester’s hats are not funny.  They are trying to wear funny, and that works as well as buying funny–or searching the internet trying to find out how to become funnier.  No good advice can come from this article.      

The rest of page one results cover remarkably sad topics such as how to be funny on dates.  Dear Diary:  I almost made a connection with my blind date, but I could tell s/he didn’t think I was funny enough.  She was sweaty, so I asked her if it was hot enough for her/him.  What else can I possibly do?  It must be her/him Pat/Pat who doesn’t have a sense of humor, because I’m certainly funny.  I learned the difference between those two things on Quora.  It was the first result.

Real information doesn’t pay to be on page one, though.  Page one is the off-ramp chain restaurant that isn’t great but will make a turd of the information world.  The good stuff, the meaty answers are off the beaten path.  I go to page 13.

Yea, there’s still some crap there as well.  I didn’t have the patience to go to page 113.  I mean, if I go back to the unfunny highway travel analogy I already took too far, there’s always a McBurgerBell next to Patrice’s Drumsticks & Fish.  The frightened go to the former and later make a turd; the bold go to the latter and make memories.

Five search results on page 13, five more than on page one, show promise.  I don’t even have to open the pages.  The titles themselves tell me everything I need to know about humor.  Here is a list consisting of their titles which will act as your guide to how to be funny or how not to be not funny, which is more important.  

  1. The Benefits Of Growing Up In A Dysfunctional Family
    This is the source of all humor.  Being functional might explain speaking in clichés, acting in a scripted life, repeating that “funny thing” they heard as a child without question.  Dysfunctional = potentially funny.  Functional = decidedly unfunny. The prefix “dys” is even fun to say.

  2. How do I know when contacts in a motor starter are too worn?
    This is just a funny line.  I’m going to ensure I use it in my next three conversations.  Someone will say something about their food, like, this food is good, and I’ll say “but how do I know when contacts in a motor starter are too worn?”  
    Response one:  “Well, that’s easy.  You check the . . . “  This tells me the person didn’t understand that I was offering up the question in a fanciful manner.  Failure to recognize the absurd might mean the person will look at my 18 ounce steak and ask “got enough meat there?”
    Response two:  “Are you high?”  Such a response indicates that the person thinks one must be under the influence of a drug to say random things.  The force of normalcy is strong in these people.  They will also tell me that I have too much time on my hands when I explain something that I am working on.  These people are not those that will make the anti-joke.  They are worse.  These people laugh when someone else hits them with one.
    Response three:  “I would detect evil.  Then if evil, I would kill her.”  New best friend.  

  3. I Would Detect Evil.  Then if Evil. . .I would kill her.
    The page attached collects gaming-themed memes and cartoons, most of which appear to be funny.  I don’t like Pinterest, though, since I don’t want to sign up.  I see something interesting and click on it and am prompted for my account.  I feel like I’m being stopped by drab green  guards while accidentally crossing into disputed territory.  “You can’t make me get a passport,” I say in defiance.  “I don’t need papers!  I’m an autonomous being and recognize no borders!”  Pinterest is not funny.  But a little violence can be–when it happens to someone else and that someone isn’t hurt too terribly bad.  The first joke was probably throwing a rock at a friend in a tree picking coconuts or something.  Hits him.  Funny.  Draws blood.  Funnier.  Draws blood and knocks him to the ground.  Funniest.  He dies, funniest until, well, the funeral. Humor has limits.  

  4. SyncCrypt ransomware able to sneak past most. . .
    The page itself reveals the words after the ellipses:  antivirus defenses.  Though I enjoyed the suspense left by the punctuation, I’m dissatisfied by the resolution.  I’m just not as keen on it as a complete sentence.  I think the truncated version that shows on the search page better aligns with the original query about being funny.  It doesn’t offer an expository response; it offers an enlightening illustration instead.  The young monk asks the zen master if water has the Buddha nature and the master shoves him in the water.  Genius.  Here we ask how to be funny (or not) and we are thrust into a situation that is absolutely funny–ransomware sneaking past most.

  5. Where Sarcasm Resides –  Traumatic Brain Injury.
    And we’ve come almost full circle.  

Random enough for you?  I imagine there are so many more mysteries that can be solved on page 13 of Google searches.  I for one will endeavor to find out.