Whenever we think of jokes, we tend to think of the verbal variety. There’s something quite satisfying, cathartic even, to telling a good joke. The moment when you reach the punchline and everyone (hopefully) laughs, makes you feel, for that one moment in time, almost invincible. I can fully understand why many comedians say that audience appreciation is addictive.
That said, I would never have the nerve to stand on stage and tell a joke, even though I love telling them. I can distinctly remember a moment many years ago, when I was meeting Karen, my soon to be sister-in-law, for the first time. Over dinner, the subject got around to humour and telling jokes. Karen said that she couldn’t tell a joke if her life depended on it, claiming that she always got muddled up, forgot a crucial part, or could remember the punchline but not the rest. My now husband, emboldened and fortified by alcohol, blurted out that I was great at telling jokes. This news was so startling to me that I practically choked on my wine; indeed, the fact that I was coughing so much meant that I didn’t have time to protest before he said, “Go on babe, tell a joke. You know loads.” Even though nothing had changed in our immediate surroundings, it was as if a spotlight had clicked on, holding me fixedly in its magnetic beam.
It has to be said though that, mortified though I was by my husband’s suggestion, I too was filled with Dutch Courage, so I grasped the nettle, got a firm grip on the situation, and many more idioms that I shall refrain from mentioning, drained my glass and said, “So I went into a record shop and I asked the guy, “What have you got by The Doors?” He said, “A bucket of sand and a fire blanket.” Karen laughed so hard I thought she may have a toileting issue!
Emboldened still further, I followed up with, “I went to an ice-cream van and I said, “Can I have an ice-cream please?” The guy said, “Hundreds and thousands?” I said, “We’ll start with one.” He said, “Knickerbocker Glory?” I said, “I do get a certain amount of freedom in these trousers, yes.” At this point, the decorum and dignity which Karen was desperately trying to cling to evaded her, and an arc of wine spouted from her mouth and across the table. Naturally, all three of us found this particularly hilarious and it was several minutes before any semblance of sanity was regained.
However, not all jokes are of the verbal variety. There are many that are visual. In fact, I am convinced that Mother Nature herself is a comedienne extraordinaire when it comes to visual hilarity. How else do you explain this, the veritable Kim Kardashian of the mushroom world?
Then there are those moments when you come across something visual that you are convinced must be a joke. I had one such moment not so long ago, when I had the occasion to use the bathroom on the ferry from Calais to Dover. I entered the cubicle, as you do, when my eye was suddenly caught by the roll of toilet paper. I perhaps must point out that it is an idiosyncrasy of mine to always check whether there is toilet paper in a public cubicle before I commit to locking the door (I have been caught out on previous occasions, and believe me, friendships are never formed by having to ask if someone can slide some tissue under the door for you!) On this occasion, however, I was neither struck by the presence of the toilet roll, nor by the lack of it. Rather, it was the position which grabbed my attention.
Now, before you ask, I am not in the habit of taking photos in toilet cubicles, but in this case I made an exception. After all, who would believe me otherwise?