Since I am not very smart, I have a simple philosophy about telling jokes. Jokes should never be explained. Jokes are either funny, like they are intended to be, or they are not. If someone doesn’t laugh at your joke, it’s either because the joke isn’t funny, or they don’t get it. No amount of explaining will turn a joke that isn’t funny into one that is worthy of laughter; and, if someone doesn’t get the joke, they probably never will: something fundamental is missing, and explaining that a 17th century Dutch farmer is confusable with a framer of the same geographical time period due to metathesis—the interchanging of a vowel with a consonant—well, if you have to go that far, the joke is never going to be funny. Right, Dennis Miller?
The problem is, if you make what you think is a witty remark to someone, and they respond with a blank face, “What? I don’t get it,” and then you say, “Never mind, it wasn’t funny,” they often times think that you’re being a dick and making fun of them, and people don’t like that very much.
When you demean someone and you lower their presumed status as far as their very primordial circuit is concerned, you alter the system that regulates their emotions… and they hate that!Jordan Peterson
People don’t like being insulted. If they happen to be holding a knife, a pair of scissors, a salad fork, or even a sharpened spoon in that moment, things could get pretty ugly. For you. As in, they might stab you in the face or neck because of anger and rage. It’s funny because it would be a violent overreaction to a minor social rebuff, and the mental image of someone (else) being stabbed in the face with a spoon because they took personal offense to an offhand remark… it’s funny. Trust me, it just is, but maybe your imagination isn’t as vivid as mine.
When I was a kid, I used to know a lot of Hellen Keller jokes, but now, for some reason, I can’t remember any of the setups, just the punchlines. Leave the plunger in the toilet, hand her a basketball, and she screamed her fingers off. There was something that her mother hid on her for some reason, but I don’t remember what it was. Maybe, her car keys? That’s it, that’s all I can remember. Same thing with the old AIDS jokes. They used to be funny. There was something about pancakes and toast fitting under the door, and there was a joke about a pimp with ED that ended in, If I’m impotent, I am going to look impotent, except he says it lazy, like important, but with a soft R. There was a joke about fellatio, and the difference between green and red being gangrene vs. lipstick. Then, there was the one that ended with the rabbi saying, “We throw the money up in the air, towards heaven, and what God wants, he keeps.“
There were books that cataloged all of the good jokes. 101 Jokes for All Occasions, Best Dad Jokes, Ever! etc. We’d memorize them all and then just tell them by number. Someone would shout out during Math class, 27, 33, and 41! Everyone would laugh. The jokes about pi and sqrt(2) always got a reaction. Number 42 was never funny, for some reason. Until recently, at least. Now, you hear it everywhere, and it’s surprisingly sexist, so you have to be careful who is in the room when you tell it. Not everyone can pull off a joke like that, and if it needs an explanation, it probably isn’t funny.