by Alex King
I’m an expert in being funny. As such, strangers often approach me and exclaim, “Alex! How can I be more funny!?” to which I inevitably respond “With a face like that, I don’t think you can be any funnier! Ha!” then we both laugh heartily till they eventually leave to cry alone. But you reader are different, it is possible you are ugly, but you are no stranger. So I present this guide so that finally you, too, can incorporate wit into your everyday life.
The “Your Mom’s A” This is a basic response you can start employing right away, even during the course of reading this guide. The basic premise is to take the last word of your unfortunate interlocutor’s statement and insist their mother is also that. Strangely, you can swap out mother for face and there is no loss in meaning. This is extremely basic and acceptable only in 6th grade.
Joe: “That accident was a horrific tragedy.”
Jester: “Your mom’s a horrific tragedy!”
Mary: “Native Son is about the conditions of the poor urban African- American.”
Jester: “Your face is about the conditions of the poor urban African- American, ha!”
The “X called, they want Y back”
This is an easy format that lends itself easily to daily life. The format itself is simple, requiring only some person, place or concept, and a negative aspect of it that your target must possess. It also implies they are a dirty thief, too.
“Yo Jerome, France called, they want their being a total pussy back.”
“Scott, the 1980’s called, they want their irresponsible use of narcotics back.”
“Hey Heather, Buffalo Bill called, he wants his female human suit back”
[Alex’s note: This is actually an ancient technique. It was first coined in 1564 England during the third round of a Parliamentary debate. Lord Cornwellington quipped in a drunken drawl, “O Viscount Catham, the Kingdom of France has just verily sent a horse-riding herald, and he quothed they want their being a total pussy back!” He did not even have the floor at the time.]
IMPORTANT: Do not attempt any of the following until you have mastered the basic techniques. It may help to practice in front of a mirror, pet or a blind person.
This is a moderate technique where you interpret a friend’s metaphor as a statement of fact. It may help to afterwards nudge them with your elbow while winking repeatedly.
Rob: “Ahh- after all that walking, my feet are just killing me!”
Jester shoots Rob’s feet
Jester: “… I was protecting you.”
Akiko: “Hey Jester, Wharton called, they want their soulless addiction to immoral profits back!”
Jester: “Well? Did you take a message?”
[Alex’s note: Careful with the reverse of this technique. Interpreting something literal as metaphorical may have a comedic potential, but is also fraught with danger. When someone exclaims the roof is on fire, think before you joke: could the roof actually be on fire?]
The Bad Joke
This technique will take a lot of practice. Tell a intentionally bad joke, then laugh heartily and do not cease laughing. Your interlocutor will be forced to join in, forced to assume that perhaps there’s something about the joke they don’t get. The following example incorporates the above technique:
Eva: “So yeah, I keep running into old friends from High School lately.”
Jester: “You had better get new glasses then!”
Jester guffaws incessantly
Eva chuckles nervously
IMPORTANT: Do not ever attempt the following unless you’ve had years of practice, or have received a certificate of being funny from my pseudonym Polonius Funnyton for $100.
During the midst of your witty banter, sometimes it’s good to slip in a joke that won’t dawn on your friend till months, sometimes years later. With careful use, you can build a reputation for truly intellectual wit. Do not overuse it however, or you will be regarded as humorless pariah till approximately months, sometimes years later.
Harold: “So then my father, he’s Russian you see, looks at our Pomeranian with a flashlight, and says, ‘That’s not my wife!’”
Jester counters: “Ha, I bet when he was elbow high when he turned down an opportunity to get caught!”
(3 years pass, Harold gets the references to the Wladyslaw I, the Watergate scandal, the Poincare conjecture, trochaic octameter, Oliver Sacks, and even the Jewish Autonomous Oblast)
Good joke then leave
This was popularized in an episode of Seinfeld, but the technique is solid. After tossing off a particularly good joke, accept it as your high note and promptly leave, especially if you had just walked in after traveling for hours. People will remember you for that success, instead of the inevitable failures to follow. Sometimes simply leaving the room or area isn’t enough however- if you feel the joke you have just told is priceless, perhaps the best joke ever, go one better and don’t just leave the room: leave the country. Emigrate to the Kingdom of the Bhutan and purchase a small mountain cottage. Legally change your name to Hiram Ng and live out the rest of your life in obscurity.
These techniques should serve you well, now go get ‘em champs!