This has probably happened to you.
Within certain limitations, you’re a moderately funny person. People don’t look at their watches and mumble something when you approach. Their eyes don’t gloss over when you launch into a story, even if it’s the bat story and they may have heard it once or twice before. You’ve got a certain slow easy banter, if not actual wit.
But then you’re at work, you’re in the middle of a couple of things, but it’s somebody’s birthday, or someone is leaving or getting married or having a baby, they’re whipping a card around and it’s showtime!
Write something funny. Write something funny right now! And it can’t be anything you’ve ever written before. In fact, you shouldn’t even use any words that you’ve used before. Invent new funny words! Hurry up! I bet even the letters are going to be funny. In funny ink.
The pressure mounts, you don’t want to lame out, I mean, how often is Tina going to turn 44?
The blank page grows ever snowier and eventually you have to face the fact that you just ain’t got it today, and all Tina gets is “Happy Birthday!” “Have a great day!” “Best wishes!”
Tap City, chump.
And you know the rest of the story—two minutes after you pass the card off, eight or nine words just magically come together in your head to form a thought that perfectly combines Tina’s love of Sons of Anarchy, her preachiness about keeping the lunch room clean and her encyclopedic knowledge of ‘70s one-hit wonders. But you can’t get it back. Moment’s passed.
It’s not that you’re not funny. It’s just that you’re not, as Rupert Pupkin from The King of Comedy would say, “on-funny.” You’re just regular.
But there’s a way around that. With a little planning, you need never come up on the wrong side of the Chuckles Gap again. The key is to recognize some time when you really are on, you know, card-wise, Facebook/Twitter-wise, just pithy as all get-out, and once you know you’re in the zone, jot down a few possibilities to get you through the dry spells.
I’ll give you a few to start the ball rolling:
I’m still waiting for my smoked-meat snack!
Ever think you’d live long enough to see TWO Deuce Bigalow movies?
Don’t worry, the baby’s not yours!
Always hit the cut-off man.
You do go blind, but that’s just temporary.
Let’s get the straight razors and the Brylcreem and settle this thing like men!
I’m no doctor, but I have to go with the monkey on this one.
Lather, rinse, repeat. My God, it never ends!
Whatever they’re putting in these Wet Naps, it’s making me woozy!
Let’s just put that whole Colonial Williamsburg fiasco behind us.
Feel free to use any or all of these the next time someone thrusts one of life’s pop quizzes into your hands. And don’t worry, the baby’s really not yours