Top 5 Ways to Kill a Joke

Guy walks into a bar, tells the bartender he wants eight shots of his finest bourbon, money is no object. Bartender figures he’s going to treat his buddies, but the guy plants his feet and knocks back all eight shots, bam bam bam. Bartender says, “Holy smokes! I’ve been a bartender for 20 years and I’ve never seen anybody drink like that.”

Guys says, “If you had what I have, you’d drink like that, too.”

Bartender says, “Really? What do you have?”

Guy says, “’Bout a dollar.”

Tell it like that—no fluff, no stumbles—and you’ll get a great laugh if you avoid the

Top 5 Ways to Kill a Joke:

#1: Do NOT introduce the joke with fluff like, “I was in Chicago last week and my buddy Joe—one of the funniest guys in the world—told me this really funny joke, so I thought I’d share it with you.”  Nobody cares where you heard it, who told it, or anything about Joe because none of that enhances the joke, you’re just wasting air.  Saying, “This is the funniest joke I’ve ever heard” guarantees failure, because you can bet it won’t be the funniest joke they’ve ever heard.  Introducing the joke the wrong way also violates rule

#2: Do NOT pad it, but get to the punch line as quickly and efficiently as possible. That’s the most common screw-up: adding “embellishments” like, “So the guy knocks the fourth one back, bam, and the bartender’s beginning to get worried. Then he knocks back the fifth one, and the bartender can’t believe it. Then…”  Then you want to grab the joke teller by the throat and say “Get to the damn punch line, I’ve got a LIFE!”

Henny’s “Take my wife, please,” is a classic because he did it in four words.

#3: Do NOT get the facts wrong and have to start over, e.g., “He orders seven shots of bourbon, and the bartender sets him up. So the guy starts to knock ‘em back and…wait, no, he says he wants the best bourbon he’s got, you know, like the most expensive stuff he’s got…”

Now you’ve lost momentum and the listener just wants you to get it over with.

#4:  Do NOT put the punch line anywhere but at the END, e.g., “So a guy walks into a bar, and he’s only got a buck in his pocket…”  Dead joke that can’t be revived.

#5: Do NOT fail to rehearse the joke aloud before you tell it, even if it’s to your buddies in a bar. Anyone who thinks they can hear a joke ONCE, never repeat it aloud, and then do it justice on first telling is delusional. Tell it ALOUD, in the shower, while driving—whenever—and you’ll avoid embarrassing yourself with a dud.

That’s how the pros do it, so do yourself a favor.