Have you heard the one about International Joke Day?
No? Me neither. So maybe more should be made of this little-known unofficial holiday, which falls today, 1 July. After all, what’s life without laughter? I love a good laugh, and making others laugh. Admittedly, not always intentionally. Yet while my stories can amuse, I can never remember a joke. And by ‘joke’, I mean those really long, detailed ones that twist and turn, and end with some perfectly timed punchline.
But then, who tells these jokes anymore? I can’t actually remember the last time I heard or read one—oh yeah, apart from that email my Dad sent a few weeks back, which began, ‘Hi folks, another amusing story from my Italian American friend’. I recall reading it; but couldn’t tell you the punchline, let alone what it was about. And I certainly don’t remember laughing. It’s not that my Dad’s not funny, far from it, he has a brilliant sense of humour—it’s just I find these jokes a bit redundant and old hat. And apparently I’m not the only one.
So why have these time-honoured quips lost the impact they once had? Perhaps the internet is to blame—today we’re more likely to share a funny You Tube clip than a wordy, old-fashioned gag. And who wants wordy, when we’re now said to have a shorter attention span than a goldfish (again, thanks to the continued rise of digital technology).
Then there’s political correctness. It seems to have gone into overdrive. And it’s killing off the traditional jests (which are not exactly known for their ‘pc-ness’) far more than technology ever could. Everyone is offended by something these days. Has society become overly sensitive? Are we biting our tongue more than ever?
If we are, it’s no thanks to a certain breed of comedian that took ‘non-pc-ness’ too far, too often. But then, we should be thankful that humour à la Jim Davidson, Bernard Manning, Roy Chubby Brown and the likes is very much a thing of the past.
So it would appear that the long joke is long dead. There’s clearly no place for it today. Who needs Bob Monkhouse, Frank Carson or Tommy Cooper (OK, I apologise for being completely subjective) when you have today’s comic genius of Steve Coogan, David Mitchell, Frankie Boyle, Jimmy Carr, Limmy… Yes we can never forget the greats who got us here (Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, Only Fools and Horses, BlackAdder, etc), but comedy has never been so good.
Goodbye unnecessarily long, old-fashioned joke with the impossible-to-remember punchline. Hello International Joke Day.
Hello, Happy International Joke Day everyone. Love Alan.