Why Did the Moron Write Jokes?

(Eric Shansby)
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By Gene Weingarten
Sunday, September 28, 2008

According to a recent study, people who tell bad jokes often are subjected to outright hostility from listeners. When a linguist at Washington University assigned dozens of her students to tell the same bad joke in different social environments, most reported back that they were ridiculed, cussed at, even punched.

The study offered many tedious theories to explain this disturbing phenomenon, but as far as I can tell, there's really only one thing you need to know. This was the joke the students told:

Q: What did one chimney say to the other chimney?

A: Nothing. Chimneys can't talk.

I think we all intuitively understand the reason for the hostile reactions to this joke, and we don't need to endure any hand-wringing over it by academics. Clearly there is a problem here, but it's not about the reactions; it's about the joke. Why not just make the joke at least a little better and move on?

Q: What did one chimney say to the other chimney?

Revised A: Kiss my ash.

In the same spirit, to reduce the needless tragedy of joke-related hostility, I decided to revise all bad jokes. I got these online and fixed them.

Q: Why did the little boy go to bed with a ruler?

Original A: Because he wanted to see how long he slept.

Revised A: Because the "ruler" was the King of Pop.

Q: What is the difference between a moose and an ant?

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