Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dad jokes

My mom told me this one story about how she and my dad ran into an old friend at a party and asked about his wife, who they also both knew.

“Oh. We’re getting a divorce,” he said.

Uhhhhh AWK-WARD!!

My dad didn’t skip a beat, my mom said, and asked him, “Well, how’s dating?”

All three laughed, and carried on party talk.

My dad’s got jokes.
Everyone who’s met him knows that.

The high school students he used to teach and who were in his homeroom know that – they even repeated jokes back to me and my twin sister, Joy, later, after school.

His fellow racquetball buddies at the gym know that – the times I’ve used my dad’s guest pass to swim laps, his friends would tell me about the latest joke my dad said, and then my dad would have to repeat it again when they forgot the punch line.

(This is in addition to him being the smartest person I know.)

“OH NO!” my mom would say, when my dad would start a joke in front of company that she was offended by.

(F.Y.I. It involves an oyster shucker and a prostitute.)

Usually my mom will walk out of the room, but she’s really missing out. Because they’re hilarious.

I like telling jokes, too, and I’ve found that I have an uncanny ability to remember jokes, like my dad. I learned it from him.
Right now, for example, I can tell 20 jokes.
Right now.
All funny.
No knock knock ones.

This is in addition to teaching me how to ride a bike without training wheels, swing a bat, drive stick shift, peel a crawfish, load up the dishwasher efficiently and water ski.
Lesson #23573242: successful joke telling.

And it's a good lesson. I’m pretty sure I’ve made some friends in life simply by repeating a joke my dad told me.

He even got me and Joy to be PART of a joke when we were two years old.

This was another story our mom told us about.

When we were two, just starting to speak, our dad would USE US to make strangers laugh when he was in a long line or in a group of people.

At a museum: “Oh, girls!” he'd say to us. “What was the American novelist Ernest Hemingway’s nickname?”

“PAPA,” we (were trained to) say.

“THAT’S AMAZING!” people would say, clapping. “GENIUS TWINS!”

Another one: “What was the name of the anti-art movement that was popular in the early 1920’s?” our dad would ask.


Even when our dad would get mad at us, he’d say something funny.

“How can you be out of toilet paper?? I just bought some this week! You girls go through toilet paper like shit through a goose!”

(Ahem, some people like to use more than they need OK????)

How do people who don't have funny dads learn jokes? I guess they had to learn from people in the schoolyard or famous comedians.

(If you’re in the market, George Carlin is my dad’s favorite comedian and they both look eerily alike).

In honor of Father’s Day today, let me pass along an abridged version of how to tell good jokes. All based on observing my dad.
(You know what? These are also good life skills to have anyway.)

GOOD MEMORY. Ever have someone tell a joke and they can’t remember a key detail like what the rabbi wished for when he, a priest and a minister found a lamp and rubbed it?
That wouldn’t have been my dad telling it.
He remembers an entire cache of jokes without having to be like, “wait…no…it was a FEMALE bartender….”

A memory is also a good thing to have in order to tell a diverse range of jokes. You wouldn’t very well tell dead baby jokes at a PTA meeting, for example.

My dad has jokes that are even appropriate for (mature) middle schoolers. And he cracked his high school students up all the time.

GOOD TIMING. In jokes or in life, you’ve got to hit your mark. This is especially useful in groups of 4 or more.

GOOD CHEER. I mean, really, who doesn’t like to laugh? (If you raised your hand, please go sit on the other side of the room.)
People who tell jokes well and often are the ones who want to loosen people up and pass along happiness to others.

And I guess that’s really what it’s about. Passing along happiness.

Laughter is CONTAGIOUS after all, so says all those motivational greeting cards.

And that’s my dad. A sharer of good cheer, always someone to go to when you’re feeling down. Someone you wouldn't mind being with you stranded on a desert island.

None of his jokes are downers, or make fun of any set group of people. Well, except blondes.

If you meet him, he’ll probably tell you a joke, too. And you’ll probably laugh. (Ignore my mom’s protest).

Everyone who meets my dad tells me that I’m lucky to have him as a dad, uh, like I didn’t already know that.

I mean, I’m sure your dad is great, too, but can he make a man going through a divorce laugh about dating?

No. That’s my DADA.


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