Pretty Good Joke Book: 5th EditionHumor everywhere — from the self-deprecating title to the understated wisecracks in the blurb.  The PRETTY GOOD JOKE BOOK is exactly what it says it is, unlike that book by Dave Eggers. You know the one. 

Anyway, I discovered this book a few years ago.  My uncle T. lent me his copy of an earlier edition.  I would read it all the time.  I would search it out on days when my teaching job just left me a shell of a human by 4:00.  Laughter is the best ,medicine.  If you want to see the missing word that might get me in trouble with Reader’s Digest’s intellectual property lawyers, highlight the word.

Jokes take a certain amount of finesse to present.  You may need to affect an accent or attitude to get the most impact out of the words.  You might need some background knowledge of current events.  You may need a passing acquaintance with racism.  Or you may need no brains at all.  No-brainer jokes. (Not as redundant as you might think.)  Overall, you need to understand what makes people stupid and ignorant.  That seems to be the foundation of most of the jokes in this book.

The most important thing about jokes for the layman – COMMITMENT, COMMITMENT, COMMITMENT.  Once you’ve sussed out the best way to lay it on your audience, commit to it 100%. The voice, the attitude, everything.  A lot of jokes, you need to play them straight for the punch lines to work.  That’s one of the more old-fashioned tenets of stand-up comedy.  I think it needs to make a comeback.  Used to be you were never to laugh at your own joke – part of that whole commitment idea.  Nowadays most comics laugh at their own jokes.  Dumbed down comedy.

But I digress…

I’ll do us all a favor and cut to the chase. Here are some pretty good jokes from the book of the same name.

How many writers does it take to change a lightbulb?  Ten. One to change it, and nine to say that they could’ve done that.

Why do chicken coops have two doors?  Because it they had four doors, they’d be chicken sedans.

What’s a metaphor?  So that livestock can graze.

Yo’mama is so fat, when she was diagnosed with a flesh-eating disease, the doctor gave her ten years to live.

Why did the Unitarian cross the road? To support the chicken in its search for its own path.

Charles Dickens walks into a bar and orders a martini. The bartender says, “Olive or twist?”

What do you do when you see a space man?  You park in it, man!

If you’re going to try cross-country skiing, start out with a small country.

How is a singles bar different from a circus? In a circus, the clowns don’t talk.

Two men are talking.  1st man: My wife took a trip to the Caribbean.  2nd man: Jamaica?  1st man: Not at all.  She wanted to go.

I almost fell in love with a psychic, but she left me before we met.

You should always invite two Republicans to a party because if you only ask one, he’ll smoke all your pot.

We were so poor, we’d lick stamps for dinner. 

This 5th edition has “over 350 more jokes” than the last edition.  It’s a fat little book. If I may make a suggestion for the next edition, it’s time to get rid of the “Ole & Lena” jokes.  However, if they help sell the book to that particular demographic, okay, go ahead and keep them in.   Garrison Keillor says at the end of the book’s introduction:

Your clothes may be disheveled and your life in chaos, you may be of the wrong religion and be hopeless when it comes to politics, …but if you can tell a joke, you’ll be okay.”

I’d like to take that a little bit further.  If you can laugh at jokes, really laugh, you’ll be more than okay.  You’ll feel like life is worth living – even if it’s just to gather material for future jokes.

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