Actually, that’s simultaneously redundant and oxymoronical! By their very nature, puns are “bad” … and the worse they are, the better they become!
I used to keep a manila folder filled with comic strips that I’d cut out of the newspaper. It was a lo-tech version of what we do today, where we save stuff in folders on our laptops (at this moment, I probably have a few hundred jokes that Larry’s emailed me over the years). Anyhow, my favorite strip was Frank and Ernest because you could always count on Bob Thaves to deliver a really bad pun. The one I remember the most was where the two guys were dressed as monks and the following exchange occurred:
Frank: Do you know what happened to the guy who fell behind in payments to his exorcist?
Ernest: He was repossessed!
As I cut them out, I’d share them with my staff, with the typical response being a roll of the eyes and a shake of the head. And I couldn’t figure out why few other people thought they were as funny as I did! I’d take advantage of any chance I could to tell some of these puns, just to see whether I’d run across someone else who enjoyed them as much as I did. (As an aside, one of the benefits of my impending vagabond lifestyle is that I’ll have a whole new audience for my bad jokes. I’m looking forward to it!)
Anyhow, that’s really just a backdrop to a story I wanted to share. Back in the late 80’s, I was getting ready to drive back “over the hill” to San Jose, CA after spending the day in Santa Cruz, but had to stop for gas. It was a few days before Christmas. I went inside to pre-pay my gas.
I had just heard what I thought was a really funny story / joke … it was stupid (like a pun), but it had really made me laugh. I decided to share it with the two gas jockeys that were standing in the gas station’s office:
A department store Santa has really gotten tired of his gig: all the obnoxious kids, being pestered by parents, gimme, gimme, gimme. He looks at the kid they’ve just plopped on his lap and resignedly says, “Kid, I’ll give you anything you want for Christmas – you just have to answer three questions for me. First: How many days of the week start with the Letter “T?” Second: How many “D”s are there in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?” Third: How many seconds are there in a year?” Come back tomorrow with the answers and I’ll give you anything you want!”
The next day, the kid comes back and says, “Santa, two of them were really easy, but one was hard. So Santa says, “Okay, let’s hear the answers.”
The kid says, “Well, the first one is easy – two days of the week start with the letter “T”. Today and tomorrow!” Santa stops for a moment and finally says, “Okay, I’ll give that one to you.” The kid then says, “I can answer the third one. There are 12 seconds in a year: January 2nd, February 2nd, March 2nd …” Santa shakes his head and says, “Okay, that wasn’t what I meant, but I guess I have to give you that one, too. But I thought that would be the hard one for you.”
The kid starts crying and says, “I just couldn’t come up with the ‘Rudolph’ answer!” Santa’s astounded: “Why couldn’t you figure that out?” The kid says, “I kept losing count” and then starts singing …”
(to the tune of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) “Dee dee dee dee DEE dee dee …”
Okay, the joke comes across much better verbally than it does on paper. Sue me! :o)
Anyhow, the two gas jockeys look at each other, shake their head and start chuckling a bit … I figured it was just showing courtesy to a customer rather than telling him to eat shit and die for wasting their time with a really bad joke! I walked out and started to pump my gas.
A few minutes later, one of the guys comes out of the office and walks over to where I’m pumping gas. “I have to thank you for telling me that joke,” he said. “I was really having a bad day. It’s Christmas, I don’t have a lot of money and can’t buy the presents I wanted to get for my kids. And I was feeling really down about it. So that joke made my day and it lifted my spirits up a bit. Thanks – you did a good thing!”
I was completely taken aback. That was the last thing I expected to hear. I wished him a “Merry Christmas” and told him that I was pretty sure his kids would appreciate whatever he brought home to them and to just be there for them – that’d be the best Christmas present he could give them. He replied, “I know they will – it’s more about me than it is them!”
Man, ain’t that the truth? The stuff that occupies our own thoughts is what drags us down. Let it go, right? But sometimes that’s easier said than done. You need help from others … and sometimes it comes from the least expected places … like some corny guy walking into your gas station with a penchant for telling bad jokes.
The moral of the story – never miss an opportunity to tell a really bad pun. You never know whether it’ll brighten up somebody’s day!