Riddle About Riddles

Riddle About Riddles

I wrote these jokes to make a point.

Version 1
—Knock knock.
—Who’s there?
—Death.
—Death who?
—Does it really matter?

Version 2
—Knock knock.
—Who’s there?
—Death.
—Death who?
—Ultimately, it makes little difference in what form death arrives or by what name we call it. We all go one way or another and while there may be more dignity in some manners of demise, more time to prepare, or less suffering, the ultimate destination couldn’t be more similar: gone and gone and gone forever.

For me, they’re both funny (for you, maybe neither), but for different reasons. Version 1 is funny because it’s quick to point out a universal absurdity. Version 2 is funny because it gets the tone of a knock-knock joke so spectacularly wrong.

In Version 1 we laugh at ourselves for caring what kind of death is knocking. In Version 2 we laugh at the form the joke takes. I think that makes Version 2 a meta-joke, a joke about jokiness.

But that wasn’t my point.

My point was there is usually a way to say what you mean that is perfectly appropriate to your intentions, sometimes more than one, but always many, many, many, many, many ways to get the tone all wrong and spoil the effect you were going for, usually by falling for ready-made language or by overwriting what could be written simply.

My point is that when the chicken crosses the road to get to the other side we laugh at the well-made joke. We laugh at how badly the joke gets it wrong when the chicken crosses the road to find itself in sudden and much-valued possession of some other-sidedness.

Good One

Which sort of jokes are you writing (Version 1 or Version 2)?

Which sort of jokes are these?:

—How many licensed electricians does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
—Just one.

—How can you tell the difference between an oral thermometer and a rectal thermometer?
—The taste.

Exercise for the Leave a Reply fields below:
Write a joke that gets the tone so wrong that it either dies on the spot or is funny precisely because it upends our expectations.

And if you can’t do that in the time available, just share a good (or amusingly bad) joke.

14 Responses to Riddle About Riddles

  1. The rotation of Earth really makes my day.

    Like

  2. ahntkd99 says:

    What do you call two witches who live together?
    – Broommates!

    Like

  3. doglover441 says:

    What do you call a fish with no eyes?
    Fsh

    Like

  4. Anonymous says:

    Why couldn’t the clown juggle?
    He didnt have any balls

    Like

  5. Valcom says:

    Why didnt the shrimp share his halloween candy?

    He was shell-fish!

    Like

  6. tenere84 says:

    Why was 6 afraid of 7?
    Because 7 committed vehicular manslaughter, resulting in the deaths of three people.

    Like

  7. – knock knock
    – whos there
    – Mind your business is who

    Like

  8. lazybear8 says:

    If only Africa had more mosquito nets, then every year we could save millions of mosquitoes from dying needlessly of AIDS.

    Like

  9. hershey515 says:

    When’s the best time to go to the dentist?
    Tooth-hurtieee!

    Like

  10. bestbaker123 says:

    – What do you call a can opener that doesn’t work?
    – A can’t opener!

    Like

  11. What do you call a cow with a twitch ? Beef Jerky

    Like

  12. bane1900 says:

    Why’d the monkey fall out of the tree?
    It was dead.

    Like

  13. lelebxby says:

    What did the farmer say when he lost his tractor?
    Where is my tractor?

    Like

  14. –Why can’t you hear a pterodactyl use the bathroom?
    –The “p” is silent

    Like

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