A dozen more tellings, and that joke still won’t be funny

by david

So, there’s this joke I’ve done almost every time I’ve done stand up, and almost every time it gets a good laugh. And almost every time, I reflexively shit on the joke just after it gets the laugh. Silently, I tell myself “Don’t shit on the joke! Don’t shit on the joke! Accept the laugh! It’s what you’re here to do…don’t get in the way of that, you idiot!” And then I shit on the joke.

But about that joke: Is there a difference between an effective joke and a good one? This joke is effective: it gets the laugh. It sounds funny. And when seconds without a laugh feel like minutes, it’s just so, so easy to grab for that joke. Because it works. But, oh man, is it not actually funny. It’s the comedy equivalent of a technology trend article: it seems to be smart, but it’s just making smart noises. If I were a journalist, I wouldn’t put those articles in my portfolio, but yet as a comic, I use that joke relentlessly. Do the ends justify the means?