Jokes Drew Can't Tell

Seth Meyers is probably my favorite late night talk show host these days. I like John Oliver and Samantha Bee too, but they only go up once a week. Meyers, who's on most weeknights, fills that void in my life that opened up when Jon Stewart left The Daily Show I decided that Trevor Noah wasn't very funny.

Meyers is topical, good at screeds, and generally has his heart in the right place. (I do wish he'd stop doing those "He looks like..." bits where he makes fun of the looks of people he thinks are bad people.) One of his most reliably funny segments is "Jokes Seth Can't Tell," where he's joined by two of his writers, Amber Ruffin and Jenny Hagel, who help him to tell jokes about women, black people, and gay people. And it's okay, because Ruffin is black, Hagel is gay, and they're both women.

The thinking is that the same joke is funny or racist/homophobic/sexist depending on who's telling it. If a straight white guy tells a joke about black people, it's at their expense, but if a black woman tells the same joke, it can be self-aware and self-deprecating and funny. ("And where's the equality in that?" says the racist homophobic sexist.) When you're in a safe space, where everyone is in on the joke, this kind of humor can be really silly and fun and satisfying and non-bigoty.

So that's "Jokes Seth Can't Tell." Now let's talk "Jokes Drew Can't Tell."

Folks who know me well will tell you that I like stupid puns. The stupider the better.

    A man walks into his psychiatrist's office wearing only a single sheet of bubble wrap.

    "I can clearly see your nuts!"

I also like pronoun humor.

    "The old man thinks he's in love with his daughter."

    "Good God. We're out of our depths here."

    "No, no, no! He hasn't got a daughter! The old man thinks he's in love with his daughter."

    "The old man is?"

    "Hamlet... in love... with the old man's daughter... the old man... thinks."


Tommy Stoppard, FTW!

But maybe my favorite kind of humor is taking the things that people say out of context and/or absurdly literally. Like, my friend tells me they're going to show up at "6:30/7" and I say "6:37 is very specific." Or my wife tells me "Sam and I are going to drive to the store" and I say "You should do the driving, because he's only two." My wife mostly hates when I make these kinds of jokes, because they tend to come across as heckling her sentence construction. Or maybe because she's in a hurry to get out the door, and I'm making dad jokes.

My instinct is to point out sentences that paint a funny picture, but for my wife's sake I try to restrain myself. I mostly don't restrain myself, but I try. Sort of. I sometimes try.

Regular visitors to this site over the last few months will note that I've got a recurring bit along these lines. I take famous sayings and look for absurd implications. I'd done "look before you leap" and "the best defense is a good offense," and I was very excited to dig into "an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind." It was going to be very funny. (Maybe.) Ninjas would have been involved. (Definitely.)

This was a little over a week ago, late February. I was about halfway through writing it up, when something pinged in the back of my head. Who said that originally? "Eye for an eye" comes from the Bible originally, but who added the second part? Was it Ben Franklin? Because it's almost always Ben Franklin. But not always. So I googled it.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

So, to my wife:

    We have found the joke Drew won't tell.

And to the rest of you, some advice:

    Maybe don't tell jokes about Martin Luther King. And if you do, definitely don't do it during Black History Month.

    Unless you're a famous civil rights leader???

[For those playing along at home, this post has an "Is Drew a Racist?" rating of 3 out of 5 Disapproving Community Bank Managers. Drew doesn't think Trevor Noah is funny (+1), thinks it IS funny when Amber Ruffin tells black jokes (+1), and almost wrote a post for Black History Month making fun of something MLK said (+2) before he caught himself (-1). Come back next week to see if Drew can get EVEN WHITER.]