One may have been in a couple of rather tight spots over the course of one’s being but seldom in a tighter spot than the fellow who good naturedly announces – “I am going to make you laugh with a few jokes” to the audience and bounds to the dais in cheerful anticipation that the audience is going to clutch their tummies in a desperate attempt to stop laughing at his umm……’jokes’. To fellows like self – who have never been able to ever understand the ruddy purpose of these things they formally call ‘jokes’ and publish in a corner marked ‘JOKES’ (or fancy words to that effect) in a magazine of some sort, the chap who announced that he was going to make the audience laugh could have found no surer way of committing suicide if probably you exclude the option of him asking our friends at the Taliban to shave their beards and educate the girl child.
Well….for instance….assume you were part of a gathering and are rather bored at the happenings, especially so at the antics of the fellow wearing a grotesque salwar-kameez-like thing who keeps behaving as if he were gifted to womenfolk by the lord god and thus making a priced ass of himself. And then suddenly another fellow announces – “I am going to tickle you with jokes” and begins thus:-
‘A fellow had a dog by name paddy which he loved. One day, when he went to school….the dog died. His mom was scared about how he would take it. So, when he came home :-
Mom: Err..Son! Paddy died while you were in school.
Son: Oh!! Ok mom!! Fine…let me go do my homework.
Mom: Ok son! (thinks):Phew!! He took it well!
Later in the evening:-
Son: Mom! Where is my dog Paddy?
Mom: Didn’t I tell you it died when you came back from school??
Son: Oh! I thought it was daddy who died and not paddy!!’ (And the bally narrator goes- “HA HA HA” )
And after this outright ghastly tale, if the bounder grins about at the audience expecting laughter and thunderous applause, I am sure you would feel pipped. Of course, not a whimper would probably escape the crowd which would be regaled with more such ghastly tales by the fellow until he gives up probably thinking “This crowd has no taste for good jokes! Humph!”
You see what I mean? It is a rummy thing actually – that not one of the so-called jokes make the fellow who read it laugh. In fact if I remember correctly…self was always perturbed in the younger days when self read jokes from the magazines. The reason – self never could laugh at any of them, not a single one! And the jokes all had cartoons depicting a fellow grinning rather in an ape-ish sort of manner drawn by some talented cartoonist no doubt. And self began to worry that self was a serious fellow and had no umm….’sense of humour’ and thus sought to consciously develop same. For instance…self would try my hardest to read each joke and try to see if I had missed something (which I discovered was very very often) and then…after self had spotted what self missed from the joke – I tried to imagine the joke…and tried hard to picture it in a funny situation – with dim success alright. Self kind of did all I could to laugh at the jokes but even with my dogged determination to laugh at them…many a time self failed. And in a bid to try and develop the sense of humour (which self thought was laughing at these jokes) self read out these jokes to all those who cared to listen and then kind of tried to artificially laugh at them. Like once when my brother was in a grumpy mood after having punctured yet another tennis ball, self crept up to him and in a bid to develop my ‘sense of humour’ as well as cheer him up, read him a joke:-
Self: Anna (yeah!! Self is a gem who calls my bro ‘Anna’) What is the difference between a storm cloud and a child being spanked?
Bro: U leave me alone! Alas! The ball is no more (sulks)
Self: Tell me anna!! This will surely make you laugh!
Bro: LEAVE ME ALONE!!
Self: Anna just this once! Tell me what is the difference between a storm cloud and a child being spanked?
Bro: (impatiently): OK! I don’t know! What is that difference??
Self (In my most showman like manner): One pours with rain while the other roars with pain!! HA HA HA (I must admit I was trying hard to laugh in a bid to cheer my ol’ bro up but he wasn’t exactly umm…co-operating and what happened after this is not something self generally wishes to remember)
I did this sort of thing everywhere, to develop the ‘humour sense’ and thus get laughing about daily. So in school, when visitors came to the house, when we played gully cricket - at all such times self was recounting these jokes self had read in magazines like ‘champak’, ‘gokulam’ etc. Soon, people who knew self started looking at me as a sort of fellow who is on the fringes of lunacy. I mean…..I sure do understand that attitude now – for well…If any of you had a cousin who laughed like a hyena after saying something like “What did one grape say to another??” and then said “Nothing!! Grapes don’t talk! Ha ha ha”, it is but understandable that you rather think that it was long overdue that his parents showed the cousin to the brain specialist.
And well…this kind of thing hounded self right through college as well…..and it led to most painful episodes. Once during a particularly stupor-inducing class, the lecturer who herself looked rather like a sleepy bovine decided that she needed to gee up the class a bit and suddenly asked – “Who tells good jokes here?” to which my friend Sesha - the fellow sitting next to self pointed at me. And self, not really having a clear idea of what was asked in the first place, rose up rather doubtfully when she said – “Come! Tell these people some jokes!”
It is not often that one realizes that he has landed in hot soup when he has just landed in it. It takes some time to sink in but that day, self knew that self was trapped. This was the sort of lecturer you didn’t say no to. She was one who would take the thing as a personal insult and well…..with the already hopeless internal marks self was going to get coupled with the fact that self had planned to ask this teacher to get my record work attested in spite of its grossly late submission, it wasn’t exactly a time to play the refusing Joe. And knowing that the class was inhabited by chaps of spirit who if considerably worked up could began hurling things at the poor soul telling jokes, self began what I thought was a good one – about a little fellow who was born and right from the age when he could talk, asked only for a yellow ball and a red ball as gifts from his dad for all his achievements through school, college, work, marriage and stuff – a wish his dad unquestioningly fulfilled every time. But tragedy strikes in the form of an accident and he is in his deathbed and demands a yellow ball and a red ball as a final gift. His dad asks for the reason for that choice all these years and before he reveals the reason, the fellow dies. It is a rather longish tale self admits but one that can be skillfully told with detailed descriptions of every exam he wrote - and maybe the subjects of the exams as well if possible.
But alas! The lecturer stopped self midway, took attendance and fled the place and the chaps of spirit self mentioned earlier chased self away from recounting what could have been an engrossing tale. It was after this genuinely perplexing experience that self stopped developing the ‘humour sense’.
And now that we are on the subject, self thinks that the ‘comedy shows’ on television definitely warrant a mention here. I mean…..for instance there was this chap called Shekar Suman who kept on babbling gibberish of the worst order – things like “Banta Singh was a MA before a BA as he - a divorcee married and hence was Married Again (MA), divorced and thus was Bachelor Again(BA)” punctuated with a most irksome sound of people laughing in the background. What I don’t understand is –why is that laughter included? Is it to indicate to the viewers that they are supposed to guffaw at that instant? Or is it to indicate that Mr. Shekar Suman has just completed a joke and has moved on to his next howler? Then why call it a comedy show at all if the people can’t laugh themselves? And who really writes all those things at which people are supposed to laugh (at the risk of being labeled mentally negligible)?
All said and done…self has just one thing to say – the next time you have an urge to regale a gathering with ‘jokes’, for god’s sake stamp yourself in the foot with nailed boots and hope never to get that impulse again…for most probably you would be making an ass of yourself and generally upsetting the amiability of a peace-and-quiet loving audience.
:-D (and err....can someone temme how to put a smiley in this thing??self has been missing that trick for a long time now)