edited: Saturday, January 19, 2008
By Henry L. Lefevre
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Monday, July 11, 2005
Become a Fan
Humor can help or hurt a promising career.
Does a laugh per day keep the doctors away? Not always. For instance, my doctor has no sense of humor. I told him a joke about an incompetent sawbones ten yeas ago. Ever since I made that gaff, he has scheduled me for monthly procto exams.
No kidding, folks. Humor is as dangerous as a juggler with nitro. I know. My jokes have turned into boomerangs so many times that my readers think I was born in Australia.
I don't dare make fun of a man, a woman, or our family baboon. With most of my attempts at humor, the butt of my joke was within listening range. On other occasions, the listeners had similar traits of their own and assumed that I was goring their favorite sow.
Even when I joked about my thirty-third cousin, I'd find that he had just slipped in behind me. On the other hand, when I joked about a minority, some nightclub bouncer of similar persuasion usually took offense at my mistaken attempt at good humor. Luckily, none of them did any permanent damage, despite them being offended.
My worst gaffs come when I address a zealot who insists on my being one hundred percent politically correct. The rules keep changing. My attempts to explain that nobody can get an instantaneous do-or-don't update also get me in trouble. I've found legions of people who actually believe that political correctness can be achieved by someone who wasn't born mute.
Even jokes about the IRS can be risky. My best IRS putdown was heard by one of their auditors back in 1903. Ever since that unfortunate day, I've been audited twice annually except during leap years -- then, they audit me twice. Few IRS agents get promoted because of their exceptional humor.
One of my most hazardous fiascoes happened way back while I was working our High School sports page. Wanting to liven my copy, I called one of our high jumpers "Beanpole" and he took exception to the nickname I gave him. Fortunately, he didn't know that I had written the story. However, I got the message. He might have been sensitive and he might have been thin, but he was bigger than I was. I never admitted my transgression. I just told him that I'd make sure the insensitive clod who had written the piece would receive his message. Was it really a message, or a threat, or a warning? I never tried to find out.
Making fun of someone at work is even more hazardous. It can jeopardize your livelihood -- especially when the victim lives higher up on the food chain.
Therefore, I hereby resolve that when telling a joke about anyone else, I'll be sure to speak so softly that nobody hears me. Once my words become audible, I can't take them back.
I also plan to keep my jokes neutral except when attending a political convention. Conventioneers are seldom a problem. I never met an attendee that knew how to listen.
After ten decades of writing outstanding humor, I have found only one acceptable solution. I make fun of myself. After all, it is rather difficult to beat up one's self. Even that approach, however, isn't completely foolproof. Others might take you seriously enough to start believing that you're really as dumb as your jokes might imply.
Say la vie. C'est la vie. Oh well, let me rephrase it to an innocuous "that's life."
(C) 1005 Henry Lefevre