Not exactly valorous, but…

“A string walks into a bar…”

Shortly after we were married, 37 years ago, my wife shared that joke with me.  And for the past 37 years, I’ve stolen it.  She knows.  She calls me out on it.  HEY!  THAT’S MY JOKE!  We wear our humor as personal badges of honor.  The jokes.  The standard lines.  The relatable tales. And because we see them as ours, we wear them proudly.  And then?  We hear someone else using them. 

It goes on and on, and through the years, we grow progressively more frustrated.  The bizarre thing is that stolen humor actually takes the humor out of our own sense of humor.  (Wow.  I just used “humor” three times in the same sentence.  Time to drag out the thesaurus).

Humor is borne of experience.  The stories about our snot-nosed siblings in our youth.  Tales of family pets doing insane things.  (Did I mention my wife is teaching our cat to sit?  Really!)  The beauty of the stories truly evolves when they’re our stories.  And you can build your bank of humorous, relatable stories when you start seeing the humor in virtually every day.

The Past 24 Hours

Want to be a little more humorous?  Want to tap into your own stories?  You needn’t go back any further than the past 24 hours.  Deeply embedded, there are stories somewhere about your past 24 hours.  And it starts with a little observational humor:

  • Covid mask-wearers protecting their chin, but not their nose
  • The roof doing a slow-motion slide toward the ground while I try to install it on top of my shed
  • A man driving off with 10-foot fenceposts in a truck with a 5-foot bed, and of course,
  • My wife doing “tricks for treats” with both the cat and the dog

Note that I don’t need to even share the whole story.  It’s a little fill-in-the-blank humor.  The thing that makes it amusing is that you see the humor in it.  At Staples yesterday, I purchased a 15-pound box of paper with a tight plastic band around it.  The clerk had three or four standard lines that I’m sure he had shared a thousand times.  “Think you can handle that all the way to your car?”  “Careful with that plastic band!  It breaks and you’ll have paper everywhere”  (That’s funny, by the way, because Hercules himself couldn’t break that plastic band).  “Want a hand getting that to your car, I can get a couple guys to help.” 

I didn’t really find the lines funny.  But the clerk did, and his self-amusement was modestly infectious.  He was trying to break up his own tedium, and doing a fine job of it. 

Every day, the world around us turns funny.  In some small measure, there’s something laughable.  And if you don’t keep track of what’s going on that truly tickled your funny bone, you’ll forget.  Jot it down.  Remember the forgettable (but funny).  Keep tabs on the truly humorous stuff in the day-to-day. 

The Abnormal Life

Remember, too, the normal abnormal things that go on in your quotidian existence.  The day-to-day bizarreness that infuses our life is easy to ignore.  My wife looks bizarre when she’s sniffing our lilac-scented little bags for the dog’s poo (before the poo is deposited, of course).  I admit to a bit of weirdness in that I wear a different pair of Chuck Taylor Converse® All-Stars every day.  (I’m the Imelda Marcos of Chucks).  My wife’s aunt has made so many face masks for the Covid thing that I was recognized at the grocery store only because I was wearing a “Barbara original”.

These are all the little things that push all of us from the ho-hum to the humorous.  Remembering the one-line episodes of our life keeps them interesting.  And it makes our life more interesting to us, as well as others. 

Stolen Humor

If, like me, you have someone steal your jokes, your stories or your situations, it’s a cause for celebration.  It means that you were funny enough to be memorable.  You had stories worthy to be remembered.  And if you’re among close friends (or significant others), you can lay claim as the originator…HEY!  THAT’S MY JOKE!


Want a taste of Carl’s humor?  Consider his next public course!  Check here, or check LinkedIn or better still, send me an e-mail!