Playing With Other’s Words

You may find this difficult to believe based on the serious and sober nature of most of the things I write, but I do have – let’s be kind – and unusual, offbeat, ever so lightly skewed sense of humor. Don’t try to argue with me. I know it’s true. (I didn’t notice anyone arguing. You could have as least said, “No! Really?!” That silence hurt!)
One of my gifts (at least I call it a gift) is the ability to play off of what other people say. I have actually heard people refer to this talent as something other than a gift, but what does my family know about real humor? Using something someone else has innocently said and turning it around to make it into a joke is a beautiful thing to behold. Take the example of someone saying, “What a nice day it is outside.” You would think that such an innocent phrase would not lend itself to a humorous response. Normally you’d be right. I mean, come on, how’s a person supposed to maintain a reputation as a sarcastic conversationalist if that is all you give him to work with. Some people can be so insensitive to the needs of others.
A phrase like the nice day comment requires excessive creativity to turn it into something useful. A phrase like: “I heard it is supposed to rain later. The forecaster said it was going to rain cats and dogs. Don’t step in a poodle.” Ha, ha, you think to yourself. What a witty response that was. Too bad I heard it in third grade. Okay, that one was a little lame. But seriously, who are you trying to please? Others? If you wanted to do that you wouldn’t be making jokes at their expense. You are really trying to amuse yourself so you won’t go crazy and go postal on people who don’t like your sense of humor. Of course I would never do that. (I like to call it going FedEx. It’s like postal but a lot faster.)
Now if you are in a meeting, that is where the fun begins. Sometimes all you need to do is raise an eyebrow and offer a knowing, slightly sardonic smile at anything that is said. That alone can get you a couple of laughs or at least a chuckle. The beauty of the smile-eyebrow combo is that someone else does all the work. They think you know what they think is funny when you really don’t think they have a sense of humor or that they can even think. It is perfect.
The meetings themselves give even a mildly creative person loads of potential material if they can time it just right. It is all in the timing as Gary, my fencing instructor, told me after stabbing me forty-six times in a row! Allow me to elaborate by giving an actual example from a meeting I attended. The meeting had begun and one of my fellow attendees says, “I hope this meeting will be over before lunch.” My comment was, “It shouldn’t last much longer than the last ice age.” It was pretty funny. It would have been even funnier if I’d have said it right after the person said it instead of three days later when we were both standing at urinals in McDonald’s. Although it did have an affect on him, it was not the laughter I had hoped for.
You see there are ways to win friends and influence people with just a little bit of wit and sarcasm. The next time you have the chance to make a dry comment on something someone else says, give it a try and let me know how it goes. If they laugh, I’ll be more than willing to steal you joke and use it on everyone I see.