Monday, May 9, 2011

Anatomy of a BAD joke

A bunch of people most of us have in common have been and will be blogging about a conference we all went to this weekend: LDS Storymakers. And it was epic. Most people will tell you it's because the classes were awesome, the speakers incredible, etc. All true, by the way. But it was epic for me for entirely different reasons.


See, here's the thing. The very first post from which most people discovered me three years ago chronicled the absolute disaster of my first writing conference. That story is here. You'll think it's funny. Maybe we're at the point where tragedy + time = comedy, because I admit, I think it's kinda funny now, too. Kinda.


Then at last year's conference, I had another moment of total idiocy which you can read about here. Yeah, you'll get the idiot shivers. Me, too. I'm learning it's a function of me + writing conferences = tragedy.


So it should come as no surprise to you that I'm fresh back from another conference and this time, I reached the highest heights--wait, no. Make that the lowest of lows, in my quest to flame out of one of these on such a massive scale that I'm forever barred from all writing conferences. In the world. EVER.


All right. Here's the thing. This comes down to a joke. Imagine if you will, a girl walks up with something scribbled on her conference name badge. Let's say someone named Becca squints and (to be funny) says, "Does that say (insert name of not very famous author) was here?" And the other girl, we'll call her Karen, says "No," like why would she want the autograph of that minor author? And then I think I'm being funny and I say, "What she's not telling us is that she now has a lower back Sharpie tattoo that says (not famous author) was here."


Okay. Not a great joke. In hindsight, marginally inappropriate. The joke was intended to circumscribe a couple of tropes (yeah, I just explained it that way--I'm too tired to think of the easy words, so let's all cope) into one joke: dumb groupies of rock stars etc. who get Sharpie tattoos on their bodies + how the tramp stamp is usually the most cliched spot for a girl to get a tattoo = witty


So, yeah. Not a great joke. But let's now imagine that instead of me cracking this joke about two girls (because I'd been hanging out with primarily women for two days straight at this point) that I cracked it about two guys (because I'd been hanging out with primarily women for two days straight and wasn't thinking clearly about my audience). I meant the joke the same way that it would have been meant had it actually been two girls involved (tramp stamp Sharpie tattoo of minor celebrity = silly), but if it's two guys, the meaning of the joke TOTALLY changes.


Just think about it.


The poor man who I was teasing blanched and looked horrified. It took me a full forty-five minutes to figure out why he was horrified. Then I was horrified. Like, completely and utterly horrified.


I leaned over and begged Becca to tell me how to fix it. She was like, "Oh, sister. You can't." My other friend Brittany was like, "Ohhhhh. Yeah, okay, I get where you were going now, but I totally thought you were making a different joke and I was a little shocked." 


And I was all sobbing and what not.


Okay, I wasn't sobbing. But I was writhing on the inside. Really, it was awful. Beyond awful.


I don't know if I'm going to have to swear off writing conferences in the future, or maybe just the vodka I'm always hiding in my water bottles. But something's gotta give.

16 comments:

Susan said...

Dang it! I missed that somehow. I hate it when I do things like this--which is way too often. So I understand your mortification.

Go get some See's and let it roll off your back, 'cause Becca's right. You can't fix that.

Kristina P. said...

I had no idea groupies got Sharpie tattoos. Although, the kids I work with have some awesome Sharpie tattoos that their friends gave them when they were about 11. It's really cool to have a tattoo that looks like a 2 year-old drew it.

Sarah said...

This makes me feel better... because I do things like that all the time. And no you can't fix it. And that stinks.

At least you can laugh... sometime in the future.

Kris said...

I refuse to believe that there isn't an unintentional, sexually offensive joke that can't be fixed with "that's what she said".

Melinda said...

Oh don't worry about it, we've all said stupid things. Some of us much stupider than what you said. Not that your stupid. Ummm, see?! It happens so fast...

Becca said...

Oh, sweetie. I never said you couldn't fix it. But it does make a much better story that way, so let's run with it.

(Also, what I actually said was "Does that tag say "I slept with (not very famous author)?" - which was also not very funny, but at least he laughed.

:)

Sierra Gardner said...

That is hilarious. I'm doing ridiculous stuff all of the time. I say embrace the awkwardness. It makes a funny story for later and maybe a funny story for them to tell.

Amber said...

I'm sorry, why is that offensive? (Snicker, snicker.) I believe Kris has it right.

Noelle said...

I'm here from Sue's blog: Navel Gazing. I just wanted to tell you that I read The List and LOVED it! I can't wait to read more!

Melissa Bastow said...

This just makes me want to hang out with you at a writing conference since it's a well-known theory that if someone around me is making bad jokes then I won't open my mouth and do it (which I normally would, if left on my own).

DeNae said...

Hee hee. Hindsight.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

Don't swear off writing conferences! You did great!
I say dumb stuff all the time. No big deal.I think everyone has been there. It's normal. Especially when you're tired! Ha ha! :)

It was so awesome to meet you!

Brittany said...

When I was 14 and the Mia Maids president I gave a really marvelous talk in a special YM/YW meeting. Then,on my way back to my seat, I proceeded to trip over a chair into my YW leader's lap which prompted me to gasp, "oh sh..." (clearly my cursing problem started at a young age) just as she was about to compliment me on my talk. Not as embarrassing as what you did, but still thought I'd share so as to add to your comment count.

Lara said...

Yeah. Maybe you should skip next year. :)

Tami said...

Just so you know...I absolutely loved your class on writer's block. It was the best! I learned a lot from you and it gave me some good direction to move forward. Thank you!

Karen Peterson said...

I kind of feel bad laughing, but it really IS funny. And I totally could have seen myself doing pretty much the same thing!