One of the most common questions people ask me, once they figure out that I’m not as funny in person, is when my next book is coming out already.
Well, I’m pleased to announce that my sixth book, “For This I Had to Grow Up?,” is finally coming out this month, and is available wherever books are sold. (Bookstores, I’m guessing.)
And now they’re asking, “Wait. When did you grow up?”
Well, I’ll have you know that making jokes on a weekly basis is not just about being immature well into my 30s. It’s only about 50 percent that. The other 50 percent is figuring out the science behind what other people will find funny. Most people picture me writing humor in my living room in whatever clothes I remembered to put on that day, but in reality, I wear a lab coat, and there are test tubes and focus groups and… okay, who am I kidding? As I write this, I’m not even wearing socks. But there’s still a science. It’s just a less-formal science.
There are definitely some scientific facts:
1. Studies show that every funny duo has a skinny guy and a fat guy.
2. The longer it takes you to get to the punch line of a joke, the funnier it had better be.
3. When telling a joke, make sure the punch line is at the end. If you don’t, then when you finally get to the end, you and your audience will stare at each other until you say, “That was it.”
4. If you’re reading a Laffy Taffy joke out loud and the first words you see are a person’s name, you’re holding the wrapper upside down.
5. Not all riddles are funny. Some take hours to solve, and are frankly very rude because you never asked for this. You only started listening in the first place because the person said, “Do you want to hear a riddle?” and you thought they meant the funny kind that takes two seconds and make your eyes roll back.
6. Despite all the blonde jokes out there, studies show that blonde people are not in fact less intelligent. I could have told them that. When I was in high school, the smartest kid in my class was blonde. Then I switched schools, and once again, the smartest kid in my class was blonde. Then I got married, and my wife is blonde. So I really can’t say that blondes aren’t smart, because she pre-reads all my articles.
7. No one knows for sure how blonde jokes got started, but I suspect it was a covert way of making fun of the Germans.
8. For years, people thought that blonde hair signified a lack of a pigment called eumelanin, and that the pigment caused intelligence. But this isn’t true, because about half my readers, regardless of hair color, just pronounced it “you-muh-lay-nin” before realizing that the word comes from melanin. So clearly, we all have our moments.
9. In 1979, the Warsaw Playhouse in Poland was torn down because no matter how they configured the seats, everyone ended up sitting behind a Pole.
10. Okay, so Polish people aren’t less intelligent either. Marie Curie, for example was Polish and blonde, and she discovered radium. And then died from radioactivity.
11. This was not a joke about her intelligence.
12. This article is taking all the fun out of making fun of entire groups of people.
13. According to experts, laughter is supposed to enhance memory, improve sleep, relax muscles, boost immunity and improve blood pressure. So clearly, I’ve been doing it wrong.
14. Dad jokes are a legitimate form of humor, and the proper reaction is not to groan or roll your eyes. Whatever happened to kibbud av? There has to be a more respectful way of showing that you realize it’s a joke but you don’t want to encourage it by laughing. For example, whenever I say a dad joke, my 10-year-old son, Heshy, stands up for it.
15. According to a 2016 study, the youngest sibling in a family is generally the funniest. Or maybe what he says seems the funniest, because he’s cute.
16. This is clearly the parents’ fault. When a youngest child does something cute, they’re all like, “That’s hilarious! Do it again!” but when the oldest does it, he has to stop so he can set an example for the younger ones. Because the younger siblings don’t know how to behave, and they need an example.
17. Laughter actually burns calories. According to recent studies, you can burn between 10 and 40 calories by laughing for 15 minutes. In layman’s terms, this means you would have to laugh for about an hour and a half straight to work off a doughnut.
18. Laughing is contagious, just like yawning, whispering, singing in class, screaming in panic, itching and grabbing some cake to hold while the rabbi makes kiddush so you don’t have to lunge in the five seconds immediately afterward and dog-pile the cake platter in total silence.
19. If you have a fear of all things contagious and you don’t want to contract laughter, you might want to consider wearing one of those face masks. If you don’t have a mask and are infected by laughter and don’t want to spread it, make sure to laugh into the crook of your elbow. And to wash your hands afterward, even though those were not involved. Or at least smear some inner-elbow sanitizer. You should also call your boss and explain, between fits of laughter, that you can’t come into work because you’ve caught something. He’s definitely going to buy it.
By Mordechai Schmutter