Almost imperceptible witticisms

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Week 1: Jayus
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.

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I like the way you pulled us along for this story. And I did get the joke. I've heard others with similar set-ups, but the punchline surprised me.

Lol...well, I thought it was funny anyway. When I went to church camp, we always tried to fake Rapture the camp pastor. You know, laying clothes around and making it looked like he was the only one left. Nothing says "love you!" like fake Raptures.

Fake Raptures, haha! That's excellent.

I feel like I should start a band and call it that. ;)

That is a really good prank, actually. In context, of course. :)

As a reformed Southern Baptist, I get this.

I also laughed when I read a "40 of Johnny Walker" but that's only because I'm in the alcohol industry.

I burst out laughing. I, for one, would've loved this joke. xD

Excellent execution. Tricky ending. Well done.

Ha! Nicely done. I like your style; you made this joke a very engaging story.

I admit to giggling! haha

This was very cool. I'm glad you're back.

Because that in itself is a joke. The punchline is there is no punchline.

That is so very true. Great job, very well written.

Knowing the audience DEFINITELY helps when getting your humor on! Cute story!

This line confused me, I'm hoping it's a typo?
And by the time the dance was over he had a pretty good sgleo on. --I'm not sure what "sgleo" is supposed to be otherwise!

Sgleo is a Gaelic word meaning drunk. It's entered English slang around where I live, but I imagine it's pretty uncommon elsewhere.

Oh and it rhymes with cow, in case anyone's wondering!

I wondered what it was, too! I thought it must be some slang the young folks're using these days, that I hadn't heard of. :)

I should tell this to my husband when he gets home from work. :)

My little brother works in a graveyard. He told a silly joke about it once. "I'm already in a high position. I have about 100 people under me!"

Ha! Now that's graveyard humor.

Most jokes do require background knowledge :)

Oh yes - the bane of a comics life: no one gets it.

But I got your joke :-)

Mmm, prunes. I really love prunes!

I also really enjoyed your entry.

Punchline or not, it was worth it for the imagery. Really nicely done. :)

I found the first paragraph a little hard to follow, but otherwise I liked this. Totally the kind of humor I subscribe to :P

God, I've run into this when trying to tell jokes to my Hungarian coworker. I can definitely relate.

I like how you wrapped it all together. nicely done. :)

The punchline is there is no punchline. So true. I enjoyed this.

What I love most about this piece is the voice - so beautiful and lyrical and the rhythm is amazing. I can tell you've been expanding your Gaelic, it's so present in your English!

It's a nice joke. (Maybe a little long- winded :) )

*nods* Really well done - you just a great joke and essay it perfectly!

i loved this piece of writing.

I love it! Though... a 40 of Johnny Walker? No wonder he was drunk enough to pass out in a grave!

It reminded me a bit of a dream I had once, years ago - my parents became Christians when I was very young and swung rapidly round to the apocalyptic type of Christianity, so the Rapture/end times were often a topic of discussion. I went to youth group (through the Society of Friends) mostly as a way to meet handsome young Quakers (in the early to mid '90s they wore eyeliner and nail polish and wore fuzzy wool sweaters and I swoooooned), but still, rather steeped in that idea. One night I had a dream I'd gone up to the meeting house in the next town over, surrounded by the congregation, and after the prayer/silent time lifted my head and was the only one left. In the dream it was immediately obvious that everybody'd been raptured but me, and all I could say, staring around this empty meeting hall, was "shit."

Handsome Quakers? Excellent. And you're right, a 40 is probably too much for one man, but I'm sure it was getting passed around!

Yes, very handsome. I mean, in that sort of sense that they were super nice and loved to give hugs (and not those silly side-hugs) and thought I was adorable as well, which goes a long way ;) But you know, early to mid 1990s sort of grunge/emo/punk type of kids. le sigh.

Haha..enjoyed it!..good read!

Yep. :)

There's a similar one, only where the guy gets up as they're about to put the coffin in. I'm afraid I've forgotten the punch line, though.

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