The joke’s on me


By Neil Offen

I’d like to apologize for my recent actions, even though they really weren’t my fault. I made a mistake even though it wasn’t my responsibility. I have no one to blame but myself, although I would like to blame a number of others.

But here’s the truth: I know I shouldn’t have taken column-enhancing drugs.

Yes, I know that now. But while I was grasping for the easy joke, I admittedly lost my way when I was searching for the quick zinger that would bring out major guffaws.

I saw other columnists forging ahead with clever witticisms and setting laugh records with blistering parodies. I felt I had to keep up.

Everybody else was doing it, which is no excuse, even though it is my excuse.

So, I started taking CEDs. Just a little, at first, a few synthetic laughs that I know I hadn’t earned but that I thought would get me over the hump. I felt they would make me more amusing even if I could no longer do funny foreign accents.   

 And then, before I knew it, I was hooked. I kept taking column-enhancing drugs not just to elicit guffaws but also for giggles, cackles, twitters, and even chortles. Once, when I was particularly desperate, I almost overdosed on sniggers.

No one knew, although I realize there were whispers. People wondered how I could be that funny in the column and yet so humorless in person so much of the time. But I passed every test, including the one where I had to determine the hilarious reason why the chicken had crossed the road.

For the longest time, I denied that I was taking CEDs. I refused to acknowledge that what I was doing was wrong even though everybody told me it was.

I realize now that was the wrong thing to do, particularly since I got caught.

CEDs, I know now, are dangerous. They make you think you’re funnier than you are, and all of a sudden, you start telling long, involved stories about a rabbi, a priest, and an astronaut that people have heard already, and by the time you get to the end, you can’t remember the punch line. 

I should have known what they could do to you, how they could warp your sense of humor and make you believe Garfield the Cat was funny.

I also feel terrible about how I have disappointed young jokesters, all of those kids working on their knock-knock jokes. I was their role model, and I know I have let them down. I want all of you kids to understand that you can be funny naturally, for instance, by slipping on an organic banana peel or dropping your pants at inappropriate times.

All I can do now is try to mend my ways and give my word that I am definitely off the juice. Which reminds me, have you heard the one about the rabbi, the priest, and O.J. Simpson?

Carrboro resident Neil Offen has been a humor columnist for four decades and on two continents. He is the author of “Building a Better Boomer,”available wherever books are sold.

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