Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Humor is hard work

Yesterday as I walked into the College I met an English professor, whom I hadn't seen since spring semester. This person does not look like a professor. He has long blond hair and was wearing shorts. However, he is published playwright. Last winter one of his plays was produced in a small Chicago theater. I asked him what he was working on and did he have any new plays. He answered that he was working on a novel. I said that I was writing about marketing in my blog. His advice was to write something funny. Any funny thoughts should be recorded for later use. He showed me the thoughts he recorded in his smart phone. He saved these thoughts for use in his novel or for another story.

This reminded me of some of the great comedians who kept joke files. As a librarian I can't help but wonder how one keeps track of jokes. They all have the same author, no? Would the meta-data take more storage space than the joke? How does the English professor catalog or organize the funny thoughts?

In an attempt to follow the professor's advice I office this story from last night. It's not a joke, but perhaps it can be woven into a joke sometime in some other venue.

Students are required to use their college IDs to check out books. The ID has a unique bar code so that circulation is easy and we can be sure of the person's identity. We have a lot of people with similar names or common names. We get all sorts of excuses as to why they can't show use the ID such as "I never got one;" "I left in my other purse;" "Lost it and didn't get around to replacing it." We remind them to get an ID and have it with them at all times when in the College.

There is an expression "XX is our middle name." Replace "XX" with "service" "professional," "performance" or any word that the one wants to emphasize as important to their business. This is supposed to give the customer a feeling that the concept word is part of the business.

After reminding five or ten library users yesterday about the importance of remembering their IDs a student with the last name, "Zachor" comes to the desk without an ID. ("Zachor" is the Hebrew word for "remember.") I told him, "How can you forget? Your last name means remember!"

While this is not a side splitting story, it does show a bit how humor works. Some humor is based on making connections and then something totally unexpected happens. Unfortunately this story was funny only to me, as the person himself did not know the meaning of his name.

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Humor is timing, timing and timing.

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