Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Today, I shall impart to all you readers a word of wisdom regarding humor. Specifically, it's a commonly used and formulaic type of joke which is easy to come up with, but makes the joke-teller appear witty and, therefore, intelligent.

I called it the self-referencing joke.

To use it, the joke-teller will have to be listening to a conversation about some topic. This is fairly easy, as most conversations involve topics. However, once the appropriate topic swings around, the joke-teller will then introduce that subject into the conversation while talking about the same subject. Since you probably didn't understand quite what I meant, there, I'll give examples: When discussing sarcasm, the joker could say, "Oh, sarcasm is soooo funny". When talking about repetition, he could say, "I don't repeat things. I don't repeat things." So the conversation becomes self-referencing because the subject being discussed was also used within the conversation.

This doesn't work with some subjects, like 'elephants', which can't be incorporated into a conversation unless you happen to have a spare in your pocket. Which would make it a surreal joke as well as self-referencing. Common subjects also won't work, since they aren't funny, so don't try 'joking' or 'talking' ("Hey, everybody, looks like we're just talking! ... Get it? ")

I think that people find this funny because they have to think about it for a second before they can put two and two together. This also makes the joke-teller seem intelligent, even though it's a bit easier to implement the mechanics behind a self-referencing joke then it is to understand it.

Personally, I don't think that they're very funny. Anybody can understand how they work, and once they do, the joke becomes predictable. Predictability is the bane of humor. Remember, this joke was originally funny because it was required thinking. It gave the brain a double-take. But someone who recognizes how they work can guess when they're going to be used almost before the joker opens his mouth. There are a few clever ways to do it ("Hey, everybody, I'm telling a self-referencing joke right now!"), so I don't categorically hate it. But the simpler form of the joke still pretty dumb. That said, I make that type of joke fairly often. After all, most people do think that it's clever, and it tends to slip off the tongue easily, probably because it's so easy to predict. But I'm trying to cut back on it. Can't have people thinking I'm intelligent unless they have due cause.

Post Scriptum: To those of you wondering when the title of the blog post here would, as promised in the tiny white text at the bottom of the post, make sense: The post was an example of self-referencing. I had hoped to write this post sooner, so that it would be closer to that one, but it was not to be. Oh well. I like it a bit better this way.... it makes my blog seem layered. Yay!

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