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Andrew Hudgins’ Ten Favorite Jokes
1. A Moth Flies Into A Podiatrist’s Window

A moth flies into a podiatrist’s window and alights on his desk. The podiatrist looks at the moth for a moment and says, “What’s the problem?” The moth says, “I don’t even know where to begin. I get up in the morning and go to work, and I don’t even know why I’m doing it. My boss is a tyrant who’s never satisfied, and the pay is terrible. I barely make enough to support my family. So on my way home I flew in here in despair….” The podiatrist says, “Oh yeah?” The moth say, “Yeah, and why am I supporting that punch of ingrates anyway? My wife is unfaithful with every moth she meets, and out at the lamppost right outside there’s thousands of them and most of them carry diseases. My oldest son is in prison for selling meth to children, my youngest only wants to play video games all day long, and my daughter, my beautiful daughter Jasmine, the only one I still loved, died in the terrible cold last winter that killed so many of us during that dreadful time. If I were a stronger moth, I’d finally have the courage to

pull the trigger on the pistol I’ve put in my mouth every day for the last two months.” The doctor says, “Moth, your life is out of control and you need professional help. You should be seeing a psychiatrist. Why in the world did you did you come in here?” The moth says, “The light was on.” I love how this joke keeps reminding us the moth is a moth but makes his story so human we forget he’s a moth. At the end the moth’s motive is revealed to be the one motive we all know drives moths, though the joke has made us forget that motive until it reminds us. And of course it’s a bit like why the chicken crosses the road. “The light was on” is as zen-like in its lowest-common-denominator simplicity as “to get to the other side.”

2. On The Beach A man with no arms and no legs is lying on the beach, when three beautiful women walk past. They stop and consider his plight, and the first woman, moved to pity, approaches the man and asks, “Have you ever been hugged by a woman?” The man says, “No,” so she gives him a long affectionate hug, and walks on down the beach. The second woman now steps forward and asks the man, “Have you ever been kissed?”

The man looks at her hopefully and admits that, no, he’s ever been kissed. The woman leans over and gives him a sweet lingering kiss before continuing her walk down the beach. The third woman, all alone now, approaches him and asks bluntly, “Have you been fucked?” The man’s face lights up with joy and he says, “No, no, I haven’t” “You will be when the tide comes in.” The F-word has always had at least two meanings, hasn’t it? But all the hugging and kissing make us forget the more metaphorical meaning. If you look the word up in the Oxford English Dictionary you will what is, so far as I know, the only dirty limerick in the book. It dates to 1870: A young woman got married at Chester, Her mother she kissed and she blessed her. Says she, “You’re in luck, He’s a stunning good fuck, For I’ve had him myself down in Leicester. 3. The History Of Profiling On March 6, 1836, Davy Crockett climbed up to the roof the Alamo. William Travis and Jim Bowie are already there, looking out over the fields surrounding the fort. The three men stood for a long time staring in befuddlement at the enormous hordes of Mexicans approaching the Alamo, and then Crockett turned to Bowie and said, “Jim, are we having some landscaping done today?”

Yes, the joke plays on racial stereotypes, but the one holding the person promulgating the stereotype here is a dimwitted version of Davey Crockett and he’s about to pay a very big price for his ignorance. That’s what makes the joke funny—that and he howling anachronism of the tough mountaineer suddenly sounding like a racist Wasp estate owner looking out his window and puzzling at 100,000 groundskeepers working his property for him.

4. Strange Young Couple Parked Off the Road

A State Trooper is patrolling late at night, checking the usual lover’s lanes, when he sees a car pulled off the road, its overhead light glowing in the darkness under the trees. He gets out of his cruiser and, as he approaches, he sees a young man sitting at the wheel, flipping through a stack of computer and sports magazines. Behind him, in the rear seat, a young woman is nodding her head to the radio listening to and knitting what looks like it will be a scarf when it’s done. Not sure what’s going on, the trooper taps the driver’s window with his flashlight. The young man rolls down his window and says, “Hello, officer.” “What are you doing,” asks the trooper. “Catching up on my reading.”

“And her, what’s she doing?” asks the trooper, nodding at the girl. The young man turns and looks at the girl and then says, “It looks like she’s still working on that same scarf for her mother’s birthday.” The trooper is utterly befuddled. The young man and women are parked in a lovers’ lane late at night, just reading and knitting. “How old are you, son?” asks the trooper. “I’m twenty-three, sir,” says the man. “And her, how old is she?” the trooper asks. The young man looks at the dashboard clock and says, “In eleven minutes, she’ll be eighteen.” Part of the humor is that the situation ends up being exactly what the trooper—and the listener—thinks it’s going to be to start with. The joke fakes us out by giving us details that seem incongruent with that conclusion and then reveals them to be congruent in a way we don’ t expect. Another part of the humor is that the calculated lust of the young couple is very much like the planned sexual arrangements of a long married couple, while at the same time there seems to be a passion behind the calculation, a calculation we know is necessary because they have already attracted the attention of a state trooper, whose presence has probably ruined the carefully implemented plan the young man has unwisely revealed.

5. The Final Affair Jake is dying at sixty-five, while his wife sits at his bedside holding his hand, never looking away as he coughs more and more weakly, struggling to draw air into his lungs. Jake looks back at her and gasps, “I have something to confess. “There’s no need to confess anything,” his wife says. “Everything is fine between us.” “No, I have to tell you. I don’t want to die with this on my conscience.” “No, no, you just lie back and take it easy. We’re fine.” “I have to tell you,” Jake say. “Otherwise, I can’t die in peace. I slept with your best friend, your sister, and your mother.” “I know, I know,” says his wife, patting his hand. “I’ve known for years. You just rest now and let the poison work.”

Ah, the consoling wife is really a murderess exacting revenge, and justice, in a rough way, is done. What’s not to laugh at?

6. Wales vs. Scotland At the bar the other night, Kevin encountered three rather large women leaning against the bar and talking in an accent that he thought he recognized, so he strolled over and introduced himself and asked, “Are

you three ladies from Scotland?” Almost in unison they screamed at him, “It’s Wales, you bloody moron!” “I’m so sorry for the mistake. Please forgive me,” says Kevin. “Are you three whales from Scotland?” It was touch and go for a couple of weeks, but Kevin has just been upgraded to stable. I love a pun, even an ugly belligerent pun, but part of my weakness for this joke has little to do with its humorous merits, which are admittedly thin. But every time I encounter it, I’m reminded of a class a poetry workshop in which my student and now friend Kristen Naca had a poem up for discussion. Every time I see Kristen, she reminds me with a laugh—a laugh of agreement!--that I told her she had written the worst line break in the history of poetry while informing us about her character’s occupation: “She was a whale/photographer….” Perhaps she was merely from Wales. Or may she photographed Welsh whales. I’ll ask Kristen the next time I see her.

7. Fred The Drunk Cowboy A drunk cowboy is sprawled across three seats at the back of a fancy theater in Dallas, moaning to himself just loud enough to disturb the other moviegoers, who call the usher.

The usher walks up to the cowboy and says, “Sir, you’ve got to be quiet and you can’t take up three seats like that.” The cowboy groans drunkenly and stares at the usher, but he doesn’t budge. So the usher marches out the back down and returns a minute or two later with the manager. "Sorry, sir,” the manager says, “but you're only allowed one seat.” But again the drunk cowboy just stares at the two of them and groans. Since the manager knows that a Texas Ranger is watching a movie in another theater in the multiplex he goes and asks for help. The ranger is pretty savvy about dealing with drunken cowboys so he figures if establishes a bit of relationship with the cowboy there’s less chance that things will get out of hand. “Hey, cowboy, what’s your name?: “Fred,” the cowboy moans. “Well, Fred, where you from?” “The balcony.”

Poor Fred—everybody thinks he’s a drunk obnoxious cowboy who is taking up three seats in the fancy Dallas theater, and that’s exactly what he is. But we don’t realize till the end that he’s so drunk he fell out of the balcony. In other words, he’s in much worse shape than we have thought, and that’s what makes it funny. When I told this joke last fall to my class

in writing humor, nobody laughed. Then one woman burst out laughing, and as the other students turned to look at her, she apologized, “I know it’s awful, but it’s funny too.” If Fred were a real cowboy facing a life of real paralysis, his story would be too horrible to repeat, except as a morality tale to inform young cowboys about the dangers of drinking in the balcony. But it’s fiction, and we are free to laugh at fictional Fred’s fictional predicament.

8. A Cow Plays The Wolverine Fight Song A farmer outside of Ann Arbor is working bring his cows in for milking one afternoon when he hears music. It’s faint but he isn’t imagining it. He really is hearing music. But there’s nobody nearby. Where in hell is the music coming from? After listening carefully for awhile, he finds that the music is coming from one his new calves, and the sound is loudest near the calf’s tail. He puts his head down next to the calf’s hind end, and he hears faintly but distinctly the University of Michigan's fight song Not knowing what else to do, he loads the calf into his trailer and drives him to the nearest vet’s office and when he gets there he tells the vet the whole strange story. The vet sighs, and walks behind the calf, raises the tail, and suddenly the Michigan fight song is loud and clear. He looks at the farmer and says, “Yeah, that’s exactly what you think it is.”

“This is just incredible, but you don’t seem too excited,” says the farmer. The vet says, “My granddaddy, my daddy, and I are all graduate of Ohio State and the Ohio State Vet School. I’ve been hearing assholes sing that song my whole life.” I teach at Ohio State. Ohio State vets rebuilt my dog’s knee when he blew out his ACL. I have to include a Michigan joke. And who isn’t charmed by a calf born with a musical anus. I hope it’s not something he grows out. 9. The Preacher Is Late To The Funeral A preacher new to town is rushing out into the country to conduct a funeral for a homeless man. Because he’s driven down the wrong road a couple of times, he’s running very late when he sees two men standing in a field with shovels in their hands. He races toward them, and glancing into the grave, he sees that the concrete grave liner is already in place. Determined to give the poor homeless man, with no family or friends to mourn him, as fine a farewell as any rich man could wish for, he launches into an impassioned sermon. When he finishes the eulogy, he leads the two diggers in a mournful chorus of “Amazing Grace” that leaves the three of them in tears. He shakes their hands, and as he walks back to his car, proud of his efforts, he hears one man say to the other, “I ain’t never seen nothing

like that before—and I been puttin’ in septic tanks for almost forty years.”

I tell this joke in The Joker because it’s what I was thinking about last summer as I stood on a hilltop in Griffin, Georgia, while my cousin Julie led my father’s funeral service, a solemn service with an air force honor guard. I waited until my wife and I were back in the car before I told her what I’d been thinking. “I’m glad you waited,” she said. I too am glad I waited, but I cherish the skewed pleasure of finding something funny, and thus life affirming, in sorrow: the reminder that not every hole in the ground is a grave and that our rituals are both deeply meaningful and deeply meaningless at the same time; they are both consoling and ineffectual. The mind recognizes the simultaneously opposing truths, and the mind’s having a mind of its own is one of the great delights of human intelligence.

10.

Boudreaux Dances For His John Deere

One fine fall day, Thibodeaux is walking by Boudreaux's barn, and through a gap in the door, he sees Boudreaux doing a slow striptease in front of an old green John Deere. Buttocks clenched, Boudreaux slowly pirouettes, gently slides off

the right strap of his overalls, and then the left. He hunches his shoulders forward and in a classic striptease move he lets his overalls fall down to his hips revealing a torn plaid shirt. Grabbing both sides of his shirt, he rips it apart and reveals his stained tee shirt. With a final flourish he tears the tee shirt from his body and hurls his ball cap onto a pile of hay. Thibodeaux rushes in and yells, "What de hell you doin', you?" "Mon Dieux, Thibodeaux, you done scare de crap outta me!" exclaims Boudreaux. “Lissen, Thibodeaux. Let me explain. Me and de old lady been having some trouble in bed, and de doctor he tol' me I mus' do somethin' sexy to a tractor ........" This joke was emailed to me by my colleague, Lee Martin, who loves puns every bit as much as I do—maybe more. But the real humor of this joke—and its peculiar pathos--is the crazy image of a man doing a strip tease before his tractor because he wants things to be better between him and his wife.

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