Dying is easy, comedy is hard. That's an old saying, but it remains true. Writing a joke sounds like it wouldn't be too tough, but in reality, it requires a tremendous amount of work.
This makes joke-writing the opposite of laundry, which always feels like a huge task, but in reality once you get started, it only takes a few minutes of actual work. Also, laundry involves making dirty things clean, and joke-writing sometimes involves the opposite.
Anyway, I wanted to write some new material for an upcoming stand-up gig, but I haven't written jokes in a long time. The other week I was sitting around thinking of random things and came up with this:
A guy goes to a doctor and says that his urination is louder than usual. The doctor says it's nothing to worry about. Then he goes to the doctor next week and says he can't hear his urination at all. The doctor says, "That might be a sign of pneumonia." The guy says, "Oh no, really?" The doctor says, "Yeah, there's a silent p."
If you found that completely unfunny, then you had the same reaction as my partner, who when presented with that attempt at humor, responded simply, "Sorry, no."
So, it was back to the drawing board. I felt I had a good start, because bodily functions are a thing that many people seem to laugh about, but clearly, my attempt at a joke was missing something. So, how do you fix an unfunny joke? Maybe I needed to make it more political. Lots of people enjoy
What's the difference between a guy with pneumonia, and the president of Russia? With pneumonia, the p is silent, but you can hear Vladimir pootin'.
OK, that's even worse. The look of disdain I received confirmed that I had not improved my situation. Poot is a grandma humor sort of word. Forget that whole half of the joke. Maybe even forget the silent p joke. Bodily humor is juvenile, and pneumonia has other opportunities:
If you catch pneumonia, you should stay home in bed. Otherwise, it will become walking pneumonia.
Nope, still not funny. Maybe pneumonia isn't a sufficiently funny disease. Cancer? No, even worse. Alzheimer's? Everyone's done hundreds of Alzheimer's jokes. Maybe people won't remember hearing them. No, too obvious. I need something more personal to my own experience. Something nerdy. Ah, maybe that's a possible answer:
I saw a commercial for a product to help you with athlete's foot. That's entirely useless to someone like me. I'm waiting for a product to help me with nerd's wrist.
Hey, I can use this. It's basically true, and comedy is cheaper than therapy, and twice as enjoyable. I don't want to end up on a psychiatrist's couch complaining about not being an athlete. Especially because psychiatrists tend to make me nervous -- always examining everything you do and say, constantly judging. It's like visiting your in-laws without the free cake. I even worry they are judging me when I excuse myself to use the bathroom.
Although at least at the psychiatrist's office, it would be a silent p.
Seth Brown is a humor writer, the author of "From God To Verse," and a frequent sufferer of nerd's wrist. His work appears weekly in the Transcript, and weakly on RisingPun.com.