I imagine myself looking much like the Emperor in Return of the Jedi when he is firing all those lightning bolts into Luke Skywalker. His face has an expression of pure joy at the pain he is inflicting. That is the joy of a terrible pun.
I love humor. I like self-effacing jokes, Zoolander-esque stupidity, and can even tolerate some slapstick. Puns make me the happiest. When I make someone groan due to the verbal stench of my pun, I get a sensation that makes me feel…punderful…inside.
I imagine myself looking much like the Emperor in Return of the Jedi when he is firing all those lightning bolts into Luke Skywalker. His face has an expression of pure joy at the pain he is inflicting. That is the joy of a terrible pun. Not everyone can channel this destructive force, bending it to their will. My father had this ability, I have it, and I have learned that the force is strong in my young ones too! And they are…Sithsters.
My father used to make bad jokes any chance he could. I thrived on it. Hearing him giggle at his own creations was what drew me in. I did not understand a lot of his jokes early on. I was a kid and he never edited himself to suit his audience. Drinking a lot of beer all the time tends to take away that ability. His jokes would often be inappropriate for most settings, as evidenced by the looks on the faces of those around us. I remember him wearing a t-shirt that had a picture of a handlebar mustache and a sign that read “Mustache Rides, Five Cents”. That puzzled me for years.
Outside of his rude jokes, there was a subtle side that would come out. He was not much on puns, but when he had one it usually crushed me and my friends. They were usually dirty or vulgar, but still fun. He did not know it, but his brand of humor that resided in my DNA (I guess that makes it humogeneus…) would help spawn a game that has been going on for about 25 years.
I speak of The Piss Off Game. I cannot recall when it started, but it came into the world in a ball of hot gas expelled from the mouths of five young men. We would sit around drinking and try to find the next great bad joke (Piss Off) to anger the rest. We would take anything we could and try to turn it into a play on words that barely counted as humor. To truly master the game, you had to say something that was simultaneously clever and stupid, thus inducing an angry laugh from the group. That was the goal, to make everyone laugh and make them angry at the same time.
Example Two: What did Professor X say when he saw his main enemy do something cool? Mag-Neat-o!
I warned you that these were bad.
We have played this game for years. Many of the jokes I could never explain since they are based on inside experiences, but you get the gist of what we did. Time and distance separate us, but the Internet has kept the game alive. We have recruited others along the way. Those who could handle the sheer annoyance of the game and survived still play. It is a battle of wits. Halfwits, dimwits, cheezewits (the worse the pun the better), all come to play.
I have started this game with my daughters, though they do not know the name of the game. I make G-rated puns as often as I can. I love to see their eyes go from confusion to realization. When they get it and give me that expression of “Ugh!” it makes me feel warm inside. The day they started playing back nearly brought tears to my eyes. The smiles they have just before they deliver their punch-lines will stay with me as long as I live. Their jokes are so basic, so pure, so childish, and so perfect.
Example One: Daddy, that tree is talking to that dog…I can hear it barking!
Example Two: Daddy, I went to the bathroom two ways at once…I went poo-pee!
There is an expected comfort in watching my daughters use their brilliant little minds as they figure out homework, play piano, or learn to dance. Those things are wonderful, but they are normal. Knowing that they are starting to revel in the subtle nuances of wit and humor is a feeling of pride. That is something I know that I have passed down to them. A part of me will live forever in their awful jokes. One day they will make me groan with jokes more powerful than my own. I have foreseen it.
The Farce is strong with them.
Photo: Flickr/ Stéfan