Heeeere's Rusty. (Abby Wood/AP)
Heeeere’s Rusty. (Abby Wood/Associated Press)

Look, there are moments when you really should not try to tell bad jokes. At funerals (“Hey, I think he’s moving!…Not”) or as you’re performing an open-heart surgery (“Oh look, I found a nickel! Somebody forget to wash behind his aorta!”) or when you’re serving as George Zimmerman’s defense attorney.

But this did not stop Zimmerman’s defense attorney Don West from trying.

“Let me say, I would like to tell you a little joke. I know how that may sound a bit weird in this context under these circumstances. But I think you’re the perfect audience for it. As long as you don’t — if you don’t like it or don’t think it’s funny or inappropriate that you don’t hold it against Mr. Zimmerman. Hold it against me if you want, but not Mr. Zimmerman. I have your assurance you won’t.

Here’s how it goes: Knock knock. Who’s there? George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman who? All right. Good. You’re on the Jury,” West quipped. Actually.
“Nothing? That’s funny. After what you folks have been through the last two or three weeks.”

I thought the point was to try to gain sympathy for your client, not to turn the jury against you on the first day. The Orlando Sentinel noted, “He apologized for the joke after lunch, blaming his delivery.”

Yes, it was the delivery that was the problem, not the fact that the last time the jury members heard a knock-knock joke this bad was on the playground, and they immediately got up, walked away and refused to share their Lisa Frank stickers.

Oops. I can’t really think of a way to make that better, short of not delivering it at all. I would urge George Zimmerman’s defense lawyer not to quit his day job, but this IS his day job.

As Hari Kondabolu joked on Twitter, “Only thing worse is if he did his Michael Richards impression.” I shudder to imagine what we have to look forward to as the trial continues? “Knock knock,” West will say. “Who’s there? Orange. Orange who? Orange you glad I didn’t say George Zimmerman?” “Take my George Zimmerman, please!” “My client is innocent, just as innocent as the people who make airplane food AREN’T!” “Hey, are you into ventriloquism at all, because if so, GET EXCITED! I’ve brought my Paula Deen Jokebook, and I have the feeling we’re in for a treat.”

This was already going to be a long and painful trial, but the addition of knock-knock jokes is the icing on the ugly cake.

“I don’t know who George Zimmerman is,” the jury is now muttering, “but if that is the only guy he could find to represent him, he must have done something really awful.”

Less egregrious, although still unfunny, was Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s quip, after a red panda escaped the National Zoo and made it all the way to Adams Morgan (no doubt seeking some ‘al frisky’ action after reading a misleading sign). She said, “The folks who caught the runaway panda should come help catch the Obama Administration’s runaway debt.” “+1″ tweeted Eric Cantor.

Everyone cool it, please. Let’s leave the bad jokes to Vice President Biden, where they belong.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.