Last night I had a dream where I was doing stand-up comedy in a gym, which in itself is pretty funny, except that my first joke completely bombed. I remember it so vividly that I keep having to remind myself it did not really happen. It went a lot like this: "Isn't it weird how people always think they're so great when they play basketball in their own driveways? You know, you have some guy who is 5'6" trying to dunk to impress everyone, as if he is a foot taller on his home court."
See, it really isn't funny outside of the dream either. This gets me thinking about the concept of humor inside dreams. While dreams present so much that is unrealistic and impossible -- you know, dancing dinosaurs, talking clouds, competent presidents -- humor always seems to be very accurate. I really don't remember a time when I told a bad joke in a dream but got thunderous laughter, or told a really good joke in a dream (which would be a waste of a good joke) and received no response. But maybe this column can change that...
I think we all need to make the conscious effort to laugh at non-funny jokes in dreams, therefore giving a lot of confidence to people who ordinarily aren't funny. When these people wake up, they will not be able to recognize that their dreams represent an alternate universe of humor, thus thinking that they are funny in the real world. Just imagine what this would do to talk around the water cooler:
Unfunny Yet Confident Person: You know what's weird?
Story Recipient: What?
Unfunny Yet Confident Person: Basketball and people in driveways and when those people think they are good.
Story Recipient: Yeah, I guess, but who are you talking about?
Unfunny Yet Confident Person: Like, those people who aren't good but, you know, they think they are.
Story Recipient: Wow, yeah, that's pretty funny. Umm, yeah, that's funny.
This would have a very dramatic effect on humor as we know it because those who were previously deemed funny would then be upgraded to the status of "very funny," and those previously considered "very funny" would be upgraded to "Gallagher" minus the watermelons. The saying "You're really not as funny as you think you are" would therefore apply to a much higher percentage of people, which would in turn give everyone something in common...
I will start the re-creation of humor tonight in one of my dreams, as I plan to tell jokes, walk on a tightrope and juggle bananas, though not at the same time (I'm not that good even in my dreams). There is one problem, however: if I wake up in sweat, does that mean that my jokes failed or that I fell off the tightrope? I am willing to take the risk either way. The future of humor is on the line...
But I digress.
Greg Gagliardi is a teacher and writer. His stream-of-consciousness weekly humor column, "Progressive Revelations," has been ongoing since 1998. (http://www.ProgressiveRevelations.com)