Striking up a conversation with random people is something I love to do especially when running errands. It makes a boring trip to the store pleasurable. Sometimes I throw in a bit of humor to add levity to an otherwise mundane situation. I think it surprises some folks so much, it renders them dumbfounded. While staring at the salesperson, bagger or another shopper with a silly smile on my face, I wait for a reaction. Instead I listen to the sound of crickets.
I have come up with an excuse for their blank dull stares after my feeble attempts to make someone smile. I just assume that they don’t speak English. If they respond with a heavy sigh while giving me an eye roll, I want to channel Foghorn Leghorn. He would say, “That’s a joke son. Now, look at me when I’m talkin’ to yah.”
Image from Wikimedia Commons
Sarcasm is a subcategory of humor and a form of teasing. It is often followed by the words, “Just kidding!” In Wisconsin, my friends and I were raised on a steady diet of this type of comedy along with cheese curds and corn on the cob.
Then, I moved from Wisconsin to Colorado. After tossing a one-liner into the conversation, my new friends responded with blank dull stares. I wondered if humor is regional.
Maybe back when the West was wild, a couple of outlaws sat around a campfire on pins and needles after a long day of shoot-outs. They tried hard to unwind and listened to the crackling and snapping of dry timber in the flames until interrupted by one of the new guys from the Midwestern Territories.
“Hey look! It’s Billy the Kid!….” He pointed to the head of the gang walking toward the bushes.
“Just (air quotes) ‘Kid’ing!’ Get it? Hahaha!”
The gunman almost had a heart attack. He swung around to look behind him. Then realized he was the butt of the joke, so he shot the silly cowboy, putting an end to what would have been, a long genetic line of humorous goofballs. Soon all the jokesters were weeded out, leaving only the serious types to settle down and procreate. The Wild West was no place for funny stuff.
Whereas back in Wisconsin, the early settlers focused on their barley crops and soon beer flowed in taverns which could be found on every corner. Instead of fighting, they polkaed and mastered the art of joke-telling.
The following famous people would have easily fit with Wisconsinites. I found a few of their gems on SarcasticQuotes.com.
“If you find it hard to laugh at yourself, I would be happy to do it for you.”
“I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll be glad to make an exception.”
“I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”
“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.”
100,000 sperm and you were the fastest?
“Sometimes I need what only you can provide: your absence.”
“I feel so miserable without you, it’s almost like having you here.”
“He has Van Gogh’s ear for music.”
“He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know.”
“A good listener is usually thinking about something else.”
Here are some of my own lame attempts at sarcasm. Have you ever noticed that when it is really quiet, you can hear the sound of crickets?
Recently on a trip to the grocery store, I made small talk with the bagger. “I can’t believe I left my bags in the car again. I should keep them on my dashboard or start wearing them as a hat.” …Sound of crickets…
While my husband Danny and I hiked down from the Royal Arch rock formation in Boulder, we ran into some hikers on the way up the strenuous trail. I said, “You better hurry or all the beer will be gone.” …Sound of crickets…
I hit the back wall in tennis and asked my opponent, “Was that out?” …Sound of crickets…
Last Christmas I posted an update on Facebook. “I just finished my Christmas shopping. I snatched my last gift out of an old lady’s hand.” …Sound of crickets… After a couple of hours I added, “Just kidding!”
I had to get a vaginal ultrasound since my doctor thought I had an ovarian cyst. She put a condom on the device and I said, “Gosh, I’m so glad it has protection. I would hate to get pregnant.” …Sound of crickets…
Granted some of these are really dumb, but considering the circumstances, I at least expected a smile and not an eye-roll or a, “What?” (Eyes look skyward, then head tilts with index fingertip placed firmly on chin while mouth gapes open wide.)
Foghorn Leghorn gives some great tips on humor in this short clip:
In absence of laughter:
Do you think humor is regional?
Are you a good audience or an eye roller?