Joke file to the rescue as this wit winds up

John Lapsley
John Lapsley

OPINION: Like yourself and a million other sound citizens, I have friends who deluge me with emailed internet jokes.

I salute them. Free of charge, they provide a hatful of reasons for wasting more time on my computer.

The most unlikely friends are joke factories. I have a Sydney golfing mate who, when not burgling off his 23 handicap, writes How To Improve Your Life books. His response to his cancer diagnosis was to make a greater contribution to humanity by launching a monthly joke newsletter.

He’s never done things by halves, so his joke collections are around the same length as the epistles of St Paul.

Another friend, who spent his career prosecuting serious crime, curates a bad joke selection which he despatches at least twice weekly.

His material is so wildly, rampantly inappropriate, I’m reluctant to put my laptop through airport security in case they open my inbox. Luckily, this lawyer has a saving grace. Those of his jokes that aren’t about sex, religion, blondes, and minority groups are also very funny.

Likewise my email gags from the airline pilot and the pharmacist, both scholarly joke librarians.

I haven’t yet been the victim of an email rip-off, but I know that when a Nigerian scamster sends me a file titled “The Ten Best Lawyer Jokes” he’ll reel me in quicker than any scheme to free the $30 million hidden by his Uncle, the Crown Prince of Zanzibog.

Two years ago I created a special folder in my computer for friends’ emailed humour. I did this because I figured one day they’d become a valued literary resource. Should I sit down to write a Wit’s End and be struck with writer’s block, the joke file would give me a fallback.

I’d open it, pick half a dozen emails, and voila — there’d be classy erudition like: “My wife has been missing for a fortnight. The police told me to prepare for the worst, so I went to the Salvos shop and got her clothes back.”

Or a list of new words such as “Coffee (n). Person upon whom one coughs. Pokemon (n). A Rastafarian proctologist. Lymph (v). To walk with a lisp.”

I’ve never been forced to resort to the joke file because the years have taught me the same truth most columnists know. The solution to writer’s block is to write.

Eventually you bump into your subject of the day, delete your rehearsals, and begin your 800 words. And why 800? Somehow it’s right. If I wrote 1000, you’d get to about 850 and turn to the funeral notices.

But this week I finally did get writer’s block. I was bogged, axle deep. I performed my emergency routines and got nowhere. Not a verb, nor a split infinitive. Nary a sausage.

But at least I knew the reason. This is my final Wit’s End column, so it has blind-sided me. The column is in its ninth year, and I’ve decided it is time for a change. There is a different column format I wish to embark on, and the editor has gnawed at his eye shade and agreed that should it work, well then it’s a splendid idea. We launch a fortnight from today, and details will soon be published.

You’ll have guessed the Wit’s End title was invented so that the writer could be offhand and jocular with one column, and come the next, ascend into frothing outrage.

And so to this final Wit’s End. It should, of course, have a worthy subject. It should stick it solidly up all of those up whom it should be stuck. (I think I have the grammar correct?)

Yes, by God. Indeedy. But there is so much to decry, and too many wrongs to right. And thus writer’s block. Where could we possibly start? The degeneration of the Black Caps’ bowling, or the decline of the cheese scone?

Both are serious issues but can they compare with the coronavirus? But then, why worry about Wuhanese in face masks when New Zealand is threatened by the more serious pandemic of Virtue Signalling. Sometimes called Woke Disease (an earlier strain was Political Correctness), it has swept the western world. Disagreeing virologists have been no-platformed, and Twitter is being reprogrammed to conduct better Witch Trials.

More bloodletting lurks. The Americans will this year decide Donald Trump is their least worst option. Greta Thunberg might be slotted for a stand-up comedy routine on Saturday Night Live. And Scott Morrison will announce the koala plague.

OK. Enough is enough. I’d do better to resort to the email joke file. To discover “Willy-nilly (adj), impotent. Gargoyle (n) olive-flavoured mouth wash. Flatulent ...’’

But wait, that’s 800 words, and we mustn’t say sayonara to Wit’s End with a fart joke. It’s been fun, and we’ll see you again on February 24.

John Lapsley is an Arrowtown writer.



Bk 1. I Know How To Improve Your Life More Than You.

I Still Know How To Improve Your Life More Than You.

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