I wouldn’t want to speculate on what’s my worst character flaw, but I’m willing to go out on a limb and say near the top of the list is that I think it’s funny to pronounce epistemological as if it were spelled epi-systemological.
Jackie: Walking from the study into the bedroom, I passed through a spot where it was actually cool.
Me: That’s because all the cools were heading for the staircase to go downstairs. It’s what they do.
Jackie: “It’s what they do.” That explains it.
Overnight lows in St. Croix look to range from 75 to 78. I don’t know if I can pack to handle wild swings like that. How many different weights of t-shirt can they expect me to fit into my carry-on?
“I have finished my book,” I said, closing my library book.
“I have finished my book,” Jackie said, closing her library book at the exact same moment I closed mine.
“How syncronisical,” I said.
“Yes,” Jackie said. “Syncronisical is exactly what it was.”
“It’s a good word,” I said.
“Yes,” Jackie agreed. “It doesn’t get used often enough.”
There’s a certain category of joke called a “three-percenter,” the sort of joke that’s only going to appeal to 3% of your audience, but that will really, really appeal to them. (Part of the appeal is knowing they’re in the select group that gets it.) You have to be careful using them: At the first sign that a piece is full of inside jokes that they’re missing, the remaining 97% of your audience is gone.
Still, it’s worth embedding the occasional three-percenter in your humor, because for its select audience a three-percenter can really make a piece. What’s best, though—what’s comedy gold when you can pull it off—is a joke that feels like a three-percenter, but that feels that way to the whole audience.
With that in mind, let me say that My Fully Optimized Life Allows Me Ample Time to Optimize Yours by Holly Theisen-Jones is the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time. Sitting alone in my study, still tired after cranking out three sets of twenty kettlebell swings, I laughed so hard I could barely breath. The whole thing read like one three-percenter after another, with me being in the 3% the whole time. Gloriously, hilariously funny. Even the lists of trendy superfoods in the smoothies were funny.
So now, the question is: Is this a humor story with six dozen three-percenters and I just happen to be in the 3% for all of them? This is possible. Perhaps even likely. But maybe the audience is a bit bigger than that.
At 3 pm, it’s time to hit the gym. After years of research, I have engineered the most efficient possible workout, which is a single, 100-pound kettlebell swing, followed by four and a half minutes of foam rolling. (See my e-book for step-step instructions)
Let me know if you’re in the 3%.
At the fitness center, they post an occasional joke in the locker room, and when they don’t have a joke, they post a sheet of random funny items.
On the latest list of random funny items, one bit consisted of supposed dates for the first use of a cup (the male protective item) in a hockey game and the first use of a helmet in a hockey game, and ended with the supposedly funny line, “It took 100 years for men to realize that their brain was also important.”
This rather lame joke was wonderfully rescued—whether through poor vocabulary or the intervention of an autocorrecting spell checker, I neither know nor care—by the adjective used to make it clear that the word “cup” was intended to refer to the male protective item: Tentacular.
Since Jackie broke her wrist, I’ve been surprised by the number of people—both acquaintances and complete strangers—who feel moved to chime in with some domestic violence humor.
Interestingly, they’re about equally divided between people who think it’s funny to imply that I beat up my wife and those who think it’s funny to imply that she injured herself hitting me.
I guess these jokes are really old. I recognize some from cartoons that were old when I was a kid, and they are no doubt much older than that. But they weren’t the jokes that I grew up with: my parents didn’t make these jokes; neither did grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, or family friends.
I guess that’s the interesting part to me. Is this a class difference? An education-level difference? An ethnic difference? Or is it more narrow and specific than that? Perhaps these jokes are passed down in families (rather than across whole communities), and this is just a matter of our own family history.
I’d be interested in comments on this one. Was domestic violence humor part of the milieu when you grew up? Do you still hear such jokes today?
(Jackie, by the way, is doing very well.)