Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Say When

Have you ever been listening to someone tell a joke or share a witty remark or observation and just had absolutely no idea when to laugh? I have recently been observing some "normal" people, and by their actions, you might seriously think they feel strongly that their audience is comprised fully of dolts who must be told when to respond with full and complete laughter. I base this on two folks who I work with on a daily basis. So that I don't reveal their true identities, I will refer to these guys as Person A and Person 2. I fear that if I were to reveal their actual identities, the repercussions on their lives would have immeasurable consequences (really!). Let me relay to you what I have observed.

Person A is someone known for his jokes. He has the uncanny ability to pull out the perfect joke at the appropriate moment with simply amazing timing. I cannot imagine that he has ever kicked himself at the end of an interaction with regret that he missed an opportunity to recall the joke that he should have told. However, he has this habit of breaking into hearty laughter after he tells his punch line. If someone comes up and asks him to retell the joke, he will again break into hearty laughter after he, once again, delivers the punch time. This behavior would repeat itself no matter how many times in a row he was asked to retell the same joke.

Person 2 is more of a dead pan, serious sort. Whenever he tells a funny, he feels the strong need to make eye contact with everyone in the room to be sure that they acknowledged his witty bon mot. It is both strange and a bit uncomfortable. I believe that he is trying to signal in somewhat primitive terms that he can joke and josh like one of the guys and gals, and thus he should be regarded as just a regular joe. If you try to avoid making eye contact with him, thus denying him the opportunity to prove just how down to earth he really is, he will retell his alledged drollery and stare at you so piercedly that one might guess he was trying to will you into spontaneous internal human combustion.

So, I guess to make it easier on all of us, just tell us when to laugh. Just say when.