A Lot of Respect
Much stand-up comedy relies on timing and delivery. When the jokes are simply read from the printed page, they lose much of their punch.
Consider these jokes by some famous, nay, even iconic comedians:
A bank robber went into a bank. He went up to a teller and handed over a note that said, "Give us all the money in the bank. Act normal. You will not be harmed." The teller read the note and handed it back with his own note saying, "Define your terms."
- Mort Sahl
I was once sitting at home, and a lot of cars pulled up. They shined in searchlights, and I heard a voice over the loudspeaker say "We have your house surrounded. This is the New York Public Library." They wanted their books back. I came out with my hands up, kicking the books ahead of me. They took me down to the main branch on Fifth Avenue, and they took away my glasses for a year.
- Woody Allen
I've played some strange rounds of golf in my travels. One course in Alaska was hacked out of the wilderness. My caddy was a moose. Every time I reached for a club he thought I was trying to steal his antlers.
- Bob Hope
If you heard these jokes delivered in a comedy club you might laugh. But that would be because the rest of the audience was laughing too. As jokes on their own merit, though, these bon mots will hardly bring a smile.
Now read these jokes by Rodney Dangerfield:
My psychiatrist told me I was crazy and I said I want a second opinion. He said okay, you're ugly too.
I worked in a pet store and people would ask how big I would get.
Yesterday I met the surgeon general. He offered me a cigarette.
I went to see my doctor. I said, "Doctor, every morning when I get up and look in the mirror I feel nauseated. What's wrong with me?" He said, "I don't know but your eyesight is perfect.
Today I grabbed my shirt and a button fell off. Then I picked up my briefcase, and the handle fell off. Now I'm afraid to go to the bathroom.
Anyone who could tell jokes like these certainly deserves our respect.