Apr 26 2013

Do Not Bend

Published by at 11:35 am under Clean Comedy,Corporate Comedy

The Internet has made nearly every job on Earth easier. Except mine. Connecting the world through instantaneous communication is all well and good, but it makes it really difficult to tell someone a joke they’ve never heard before.

Some well-meaning clean comedian will come up with a wry observation on, say, breakfast cereals. The punch line hardly has a chance to leave his pen before it’s being forwarded to half the country. I’m not sure how the joke gets out, but I believe it’s absorbed into an e-mail through osmosis. By the time the comedian actually gets onstage to tell his joke, all your relatives have sent it to you multiple times, claiming it’s a legitimate discovery by the Breakfast Council of America and that if you don’t forward it on, you don’t love Jesus. Or kittens.

Fortunately, much of my material comes from my own life experiences, so it tends not to be as susceptible to this phenomenon as more general observations. But still, the Internet is a big place, and sometimes even life experiences aren’t unique.

Case-in-point: The other day, I went to get the mail, and wedged into the mail slot was an enormous brown envelope with the words “Do Not Bend” printed across it in big, authoritative letters. And of course, there’s a giant bend, right down the middle.

It occurs to me there might be a joke there somewhere. It’s not exactly comedy gold, but a comedian learns to look at everything as potential material. So I’m picturing some rogue postal worker who plays by his own rules, refusing to be bound by the tyrannies of mail delivery etiquette. No mere letter is going to tell HIM what to do! I file the joke away to work on later.

The next day I’m browsing Twitter when I come across a post by a friend, another clean comedian like myself. It’s a picture of a big brown envelope, virtually identical to the one I got, unceremoniously bent down the middle and wedged into HIS mail slot. With a quip about a Postal Workers’ Rebellion, subverting the system one bent letter at a time.

Thirty years ago, my friend and I could have toured with our respective jokes and hardly anyone would have noticed. But today, his joke is already being retweeted to thousands of followers while mine sits unfinished in the back of my mind. Guess it’s back to the drawing board….


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