Saying the same thing over and over and over

I’ve gotten to a weird point here. I’ll sit down to write a couple of these essays every day. Usually I just kind of set my mind to shuffle, like I’ll to clear out all of the excess chatter until something close to an idea emerges, and then I just barrel through. But lately I’ve found myself questioning the whole process. Namely, every time I have a good idea, I think to myself, have I already done something like this before?

I don’t want to keep saying the same thing over and over again. I don’t want to be that guy that keeps repeating the same jokes. But sometimes, I don’t know. Sometimes the basis for one of these blog posts will be something out of real life. And here’s where it gets tricky, because in real life I’m constantly making the same jokes and saying the same things over and over again.

It’s kind of lame, yeah, it totally is. But if I think of a joke, a good joke, a bad joke, whatever, something that I find even slightly amusing, I’ll want to share it. Maybe that’s fine, maybe that sucks for whoever I happen to be around, I can’t really tell. But I know that, for example, at work, if I come up with something funny, I’ll try it out on one person. If I get a good response, or any response at all, I’ll feel better about it, but I’m not satisfied. What if that person was just being polite? What if that person was looking for a quick way out of the interaction, and decided that a quick laugh would be just the trick to stroke my sense of self-satisfaction long enough to make an exit?

So I’ll say it to the first person, and then I’ll do it again. And then if I deem the joke or the story or the prank or whatever a success, then I know I’m in a good spot. Like I know at work, where I work with like thirty or forty other people, that that’s a lot of potential for some solid joking around. And so I’ll say it to one person, and then two people, and then five. And then after that I’ll have the joke down, like it’s in my head. And maybe it’ll be a situational joke. But situations will arise and, because the joke is so in my head, so at the tip of my tongue, I’ll be finding ever more ways to lay it on.

And after ten, fifteen times, I start to have doubts, specifically, how many times have I told this joke, and to who?* After a while, maybe the laughs will die down. Or maybe they won’t die down, but I’ll detect something, a fakeness to the laughter, a willingness to leave abruptly after I’ve told the joke. Or maybe somebody won’t think it’s funny at all, and I’ll ask them, “I’m sorry, have I told you this already?”

And maybe they’ll laugh and say, “Yes, Rob, you’ve already told me this.” In which case, we can both have a laugh at the joke’s expense, at its overuse. And maybe that’ll be a sign that I should pull back on that joke, maybe put it on pause for a little bit, save it for times when I’m only around certain people who I’m positive haven’t heard it before. And I should probably make sure that they’re not friends with people who I’ve told the joke to, just in case they’re both talking one day, and one of them says to the other, “Hey, Rob told me this great joke the other day,” and they’ll share it and the other person will be like, “No way. Rob said the same thing to me weeks ago. Jesus, that guy really needs to come up with some original material.”

If things ever get out of hand, like say I tell two different people the same joke, two times each, obviously everybody will think me a one-trick horse, like I’m just starved for material, totally full of myself, overestimating my joke and storytelling abilities. In this case, to kind of turn things around, I’ll start really upping the joke, telling it even more times, at a much greater frequency and intensity. I’ll do it to the point where I’ll totally know that other people have heard it. And I’ll start telling it in a way as to catch the people off guard, like I’ll be really serious about something, and I’ll lure them in with my sense of sincerity, only to reveal that I’m going about the same old joke, the same old same old. At which case I’ll start fake laughing, over and over again, like I’m crazy.

What I’ve done here, see, it’s not about the joke anymore. I’ve taken an overused joke and wrapped it up into one big joke, the joke being the multiple repetitions of the same joke. Get it? Isn’t that funny? Are you laughing? You’re totally laughing. I get it. I don’t mess around here. What was I talking about? Something about repetition. Something about worrying about writing about the same stuff over and over again. But, whatever, this was somewhat original, writing about worrying about repeating myself. I could probably write about this a few more times also, like a month from now, and then three months from now, and then I could wrap all of those up. Yeah, it’s funny, come on, maybe not funny, but it’s something. And if you’re reading this sentence, you read it, right? The whole thing? I can’t imagine anybody coming to this page and only reading the last sentence.

*Microsoft Word, in sentences like this, always tells me to write whom, and while it’s probably grammatically correct, I’ve never heard anybody say “whom” in real life**, nobody I’d ever want to hang out with anyway.

**Except for the Metallica classic, “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” of course.