The thing about jokes is, they're context dependent. Like, there's this story I tell that goes like this: A certain fellow, let's call him Donald, went to a dance one night, in the summer presumably, when the night is warm and big black junebugs clack through the air like flying prunes, as unloved but not as high in fibre, and fireflies and drags on roll-your-own cigarettes and the stars overhead all flicker in the dark.
And Donald brought a bottle; this was in the days before beers in the trunk of the car, but anyway maybe he went in and got heated up dancing some sets or maybe he stood outside and drank straight from a 40 of Johnny Walker with his back against the rough whitewashed shingles on the hall. And by the time the dance was over he had a pretty good sgleo on. And he decided he'd take a shortcut home, rather than going by the road, so he walked through the graveyard.
As it happened, there had been a death in the community recently, and just that afternoon men had come down with their shovels and made a place to lay the corpse. This too is part of grief and dealing with grief: shirtsleeves rolled up and sweating on a summer afternoon, the scent of clay, dirty hands and the knowledge that you've done all you can to provide a final resting place for your friend, your wife, your father, your neighbour. There was an open grave.
Donald, being drunk, fell into the hole, and, being drunk, passed out in the hole.
In the morning he woke, cold seeping into his bones and a taste like ashes and sweat in his mouth. He pulled himself up and looked around. It was just at the break of day, with the sun lapping the horizon with a pinkish glow, but not yet risen. Mist that would later burn off in the sun's heat still wreathed the only thing Donald could see: headstones.
He said to himself, "If this is the Day of Judgement, I must be the first one up!"
I told this joke to a crowd of tourists once, and got only the sort of tension-breaking laughter you get when no one understands why you appear to think you've arrived at the punchline of the joke, because this is the nature of jokes: tension building tension building punchline release of tension laughter. And if the punchline, which in this case depends on the audience having a familiarity with biblical end of the world theories of bodily resurrection, which you just might not have top-of-mind at the exact moment when I am telling this joke, if the punchline falls flat then people will laugh anyway. Because that in itself is a joke. The punchline is there is no punchline.
Almost imperceptible witticisms
- Week 1: Jayus