Thought Vomit #46: ft. The Anatomy Of A Joke

It’s a perennial bug bear of writers and comedians I’m sure, being asked “where do get your ideas?” It’s tempting to curl up your lip and snarl something sarcastic about not being the receptacle for some divine muse, but I most commonly just shrug and try and change the subject.

For once, however, I can point to the exact moment when I had an idea for a joke. It happened this morning, and whilst staring into the heat haze emerging from the first cup of coffee of the day, my friend logged in to MSN. It was his birthday yesterday, and so I welcomed him with the message, “Happy Birthday again for yesterday”. He promptly lost connection and did not reply.

A few minutes later, in he logged once more, and uncertain whether he’d seen my first message, I began typing a similar sentiment. This time it came out “Happy Day After Your Birthday Day”. The mountain of my wit is unassailable before the first jolt of caffeine has kicked in, so I dare you to climb my face. He promptly lost connection and did not reply.

By this time I was Facebook bound, and seeing the dreadfully maudlin status I’d posted in a fit of self-pity before bed last night, I decided to replace it with, “I think the day after your birthday should be called Placenta Day, and you should be given another, not so good gift.”

It’s nearly funny, and it doesn’t quite work. Here I think is why: good gift is far to soft a sound to be ending on, so I immediately regretted not typing “another, less good present.” But seeing that now, I think you lose the idea of a baby being a gift when you use the word present.

As is often the case, an audience response will determine whether a joke works, and often what’s wrong with it. Someone commented on my status with “I don’t get it.” For the past few days my chops have been groggy because I have pulled a muscle which is causing me the most painful headache I have ever had, but when I read that, I had a moment of clarity, and replied, “Afterbirthday”.

This then becomes a nice button. But it raises some questions about the use of preceding words. Ideally, I wouldn’t want to use the words After or Birthday so close together in the set up, and so I wound up trying to find a tortuous way around this. Fail.

Here though is an improved version of the joke:

The day after your birthday should be called Placenta Day, and you should be given another unwanted manky gift. An Afterbirthday.

This still has loads of problems, not least the fact it has four uses of the word Day in it, it doesn’t get around the After and Birthday problem, and it seems like such an obvious pun, I began to wonder if it’s been done before.

So I gave up and decided to vomit a thought about it instead. Forgive me for an even more self-indulgent blog than normal, but this is literally the only thing that’s happened to me today.

3 thoughts on “Thought Vomit #46: ft. The Anatomy Of A Joke

  • June 4, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    How about: Today’s my friend’s birthday but we’re celebrating tomorrow, we’ve called it Placenta Day and we’re going to give him unwanted manky gifts. It’s his afterbirthday?

    It’d possibly work better without the Placenta Day bit — not sure if it’s necessary and that would get rid of another Day.

  • June 4, 2009 at 6:30 pm


  • October 30, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    I’d have gone with:

    It was my friend’s birthday yesterday, but I missed it so we’re celebrating. today – on his Afterbirthday…

    I’ve got him placenta.

    Then, being me, I probably would have waited until it got a reply, then prattled on about how it had been tricky enough tracking down his mum, let alone prying his own placenta from her cold fingers ;o)

    But that’s just me.

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