Favorite jokes

In honor of Lady Gaga’s small batch concert last night, here are some of my absolute favorite jokes (one is Gaga inspired, which is why it’s relevant) (“relevant”).

How do you wake up Lady Gaga?
Poker face.

What is brown and sticky?
A stick.

Knock Knock
Who’s there?
Spell who?

These jokes have genuinely made me cry laughing.

The type of joke I find most interesting are Tom Swifties, which are a type of pun. Puns are my all time favorite joke type, because I think that the best ones are both clever and simple at the same time – it’s a really interesting dichotomy. I don’t list any puns here, you’ll notice, because I think the best delivery of these is off the cuff. At work, on occasion a conversation will devolve into a punfest, with people from all over the company contributing to the conversation, building on the theme. Some of the best ones have been around the themes of cheese and animals (separately).

Puns are both popular at Automattic, and reviled. I can’t really explain it, except to say that some people seem to relish the true absurdity of many puns, as well as the stretching of meaning that is required to make them “work” oftentimes, and some people have good taste. I’m obviously part of the former group.

Puns require a lot of play on word meaning, and I would suspect that makes them difficult for non-native speakers, depending on the degree of fluency. As someone barely fluent in my native language, I rejoice in the ability to play with its meaning – it’s a fun exercise, and the community aspect of punning (puns almost always happen in conversation) makes it doubly fun.

You’ll notice that something in common with all of these – both my favorite jokes and my favorite joke types – is that they are all very, very simple. They all pivot on a redirection of meaning:

Poker Face is the name of a Lady Gaga song (a great song, might I add), and poking someone’s face as a way to wake someone up is a funny visual.

Of course a stick’s very essence is stickiness, and they are typically brown. So is poop! You are led to one conclusion while being presented with a wholly different, yet legitimate answer. It all pivots on how you understand “sticky.” Along these lines is this joke’s fraternal twin “Where does the general keep his armies? In his sleevies!” (Also one I am fond of, as you can probably surmise.) Quite naturally, this one makes you associate “general” with “army” rather than “arm,” and the answer catches you off guard, delighting (I mean, it delights me) with an alternative interpretation of “armies.”

The knock-knock joke is a recent addition to the list. Knock-knock jokes are really an under-appreciated category of joke, in my opinion. I really love how this one turns on the point where the asker becomes the asked – the person being told the joke ends up directing the asker – and if you’re like me, you walk right into it blindly. My husband points out that this one works best if you ask a series of more typical (and ideally somewhat pathetic) knock-knock jokes first, to establish the rhythm.

I think that when jokes are ultra simple and reimagine a basic meaning, they are a bit like magic. It’s a little sleight of hand (word?), and I find the pushing of word meaning a really thought-expanding exercise. It can be difficult to shake off thought habits, but things like this can help break out of a rut. Along the same lines, I like games where you’re given three things, and have to determine the grouping as quickly as possible; for example: king, queen, twin (beds) OR king, queen, jack (cards).

So, what’s your favorite joke, and why?


4 responses to “Favorite jokes”

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