Go ahead and try not to laugh

I love it when I make a bad joke but somebody laughs anyway. It’s like when you go to a restaurant and you don’t enjoy your meal at all, but you don’t say anything, because that’s not something that you normally do, but the waiter can totally tell, he can see just by the look on your face, he knows because he knows the menu, and he knew that you probably shouldn’t have ordered that dish in the first place, but he didn’t object, and why would he? It’s not in his job description to discourage people from ordering food. But still, he feels bad, and he wants a tip, so he knocks it off the bill. The food sucked, but you still ate, so you’re not hungry anymore, and it was free.

All the time I’m thinking of stupid jokes to say, especially when I’m around other people, but a lot of the time I get so excited by the idea of me telling a joke or trying to be funny that I’ll start laughing to myself even before I’ve opened my mouth. It’s terrible, because I’ve drawn attention to myself. And I’ll calm myself down to the point where I think I can give it another try, but usually, especially if it’s a really funny joke, maybe twenty-five percent of the way through I’ll start laughing again. At this point I have no choice but to try to finish, so I press on, and somebody else will eventually start laughing, and they’ll say, “Rob, I can’t understand a word you’re saying.” And that’s kind of like that free meal. I was looking for a laugh and I got one.

Or sometimes I’ll just fire off joke after joke, none of them funny at all, and finally after like the sixth or seventh try, somebody will laugh. And it won’t be a fake laugh, either. It’ll be like a, “I can’t believe he’s still talking, still making bad jokes,” kind of laugh. Which I’ll still take. It’s even better if I’m laughing to myself throughout all of these bad jokes, because then I’m not just getting laughs for telling bad jokes, but it’s more of a performance, a funny little show that I’m imagining I’m putting on for everybody else.

It’s kind of like this one time when I went golfing with my friends and after the third hole it started to rain. So we went back to the clubhouse and the guy gave us most of our money back. And then we sat at the clubhouse bar and drank beer for like three hours. It wasn’t exactly what we were going for, but we still had a great time.

Would you believe me if I told you that one time I golfed a hole-in-one? Of course you wouldn’t. And it didn’t happen. But imagine you were golfing with me and I was loudly insisting on shooting a hole-in-one all day. The first joke you’d probably try to ignore, maybe give me a polite smile. The second time you’d think to yourself that I can’t be serious, that I maybe I should just give it a rest. But halfway through the course I’d just find more and more blatant ways to throw them in there. You’d eventually cave. You’d have to laugh. We’d drive up to the green and I’d say, “Hey, did anybody see where my ball went?” and everyone would pretend not to pay attention. And then I’d move closer to the green and start saying stuff like, “No. It can’t be. I don’t believe it. Guys!” and then I’d rush over to the hole and I’d bend down and I’d slip my hand in my pocket to take out a ball and I’d put my hand in the hole, pretending to pull it out, and I’d look around to everyone else with a face of mock surprise. But I’d have a stupid smirk on my face the whole time, so clearly full of shit, and everyone else would be trying not to laugh, because I’d already done the same exact joke on every single hole, and nobody thought it was funny the third or fourth time, so why laugh now? But eventually someone would laugh. We’d be riding from one hole to the next and I’d make a big deal out of taking out the scorecard, asking everybody how they shot, and then finally saying, “And Rob … one.” And I’d mark down a big number one, every hole a number one. And I’d say something like, “Wow, I’m really golfing well today. I hope I can keep it up.” But I’d probably start laughing in between those sentences, and I’d have been drinking, so my laughter would be just out of control, just way too hard.

But like I said, someone would break and eventually start to laugh, if even just in admiration of how far I’ll see through a joke. It’s kind of like when you go to a bakery and order a cupcake and right before you take the last bite you find a big roach baked right in there, and it’s not even a whole roach, it’s just the end part, with little bite marks and everything, but you’ve been eating too fast, so there’s nothing to spit out, because you just thought that crunchy part was like coconut or something, so you complain to the clerk and he gives you your money back, and he throws in a free cupcake, and so you think it’s not all that bad, because you got two free cupcakes, but as you’re eating the second cupcake, you find the same thing, another roach, and you’ve already eaten the majority of this one also, and so you complain again, and the clerk gives you a free dozen, and then you take the dozen back home, and your mom or your wife or whoever you happen to live with goes, “Cupcakes? What’s the occasion?” And you say something like, “Oh, you know. Just wanted to do something nice for you.” And that person goes, “That’s so sweet!”

And it is sweet, because you didn’t have to spend a cent. But then when that other person takes a bite you start laughing really hard, because you’re thinking about how funny the whole situation is, and you’re trying not to laugh, but you’re practically choking because you’re laughing so hard, and so you have to say something, anything, so you try to explain that hole-in-one joke, but that makes you laugh even harder, and now this other person is just staring at you like you’re crazy, and so you just say something like, “You had to be there. Another cupcake? Eat up!”