That joke isn’t funny anymore

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Will. Isn’t he great? Don’t you just love seeing seasoned semi-professionals at these open-mic events? You’d think they’d have rules against such a thing, you know, like with the Olympics or college sports: If you’ve done it for money, you can’t share the stage with those of us who are hoping to parlay our desperation into a paycheck … someday. Yeah, Will’s done it for money. I knew somebody would catch that one. Sorry, Will, cat’s out of the bag.

The first thing you’ll notice is that I’m older than most of the newbies. It’s true. I’m almost 50 years old. No, seriously. I don’t need your sympathy. Thank you. OK, that’s enough. Stop it. I only get five minutes. If you people waste my time clapping or laughing, I’ll never get to impress you with my jokes.

People ask me why I didn’t try stand-up sooner. “You’re hilarious! You should be a comedian!” This is usually after I tell them about my chronic depression. Or how I got arrested for a case of mistaken identity and then lost my job and got evicted.

Yeah, I’m hilarious, but I couldn’t do stand-up while my folks were still alive; they would have been mortified! I simply couldn’t let that happen. Right? You love your parents, right? So, I made their deaths look like an accident. I would have gotten away with it, too, (all together) “if it weren’t for those meddling kids.” That one never gets old.

Fast-forward through a 20-year stretch in the penitentiary, and I’m no closer to a professional career than I was when they sold the farm to send me to college. I’ve got nothing to lose and, more importantly, nothing to do on a Tuesday night, so here I am. What serious errors in judgment brought you here tonight?

Of course, I’m joking. My parents are still alive. After wrestling with the idea of doing stand-up for 30 years, I realized I was almost certain to fall flat on my face, so there was little chance they would be disappointed. Any more disappointed, I should say.

I guess there’s something about the way I talk that makes everybody think I’m joking when I’m being serious. For instance, I had this plan to end world hunger … See? What’s funny about that? It sucks. It would totally work, but there’s no way I’m gonna get anybody to take me seriously.

Back when I was in school, I had to come up with a project for the science fair. I was thinking about immunology, and I had this idea to cure cancer. Of course, the experiment would have required hundreds of cancer patients willing to submit to testing that may have sped their demise and a financial outlay in the neighborhood of several hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars, neither of which I had, so I did this thing with lima beans to see if there was a way to speed up their germination or whatever. I could have gotten a job with Monsanto, I guess, yeah, great. Be part of the solution, right? And then, sometime last year, I heard that somebody in England was curing cancer using the method I had thought of 25, 30-plus (?) years ago. See? Hilarious! Oh, well, at least somebody thought of it.

Don’t you think this hoarding problem has gotten out of hand? I mean, now the NSA has gotten in on it! They’re hoarding so much useless information they’re having to construct the largest complex of warehouses ever imagined just to store it all. I feel sorry for the NSA’s kids. They are going to have to rent the biggest dumpster in the universe to haul that shit away when the NSA dies.

Thank you. Thank you. That’s my time. Don’t forget to tip your servers. Whoops! (The speaker trips while handing the mic to the MC and lands face first while exiting the stage, resulting in a disfiguring injury and the loss of several teeth.)

For further consideration: Patton Oswald recently posted an excellent blog entry, “A Closed Letter to Myself About Thievery, Heckling and Rape Jokes,” wherein he dealt with the karmic ramifications of embracing integrity in the world of stand-up comedy, the unfortunate reason that heckling exists, and the idea that there are areas that are off-limits for humor. You can find it with a simple Google search or go here: