My first guitar teacher, Sandy, was a funny guy. Well, no, he wasn’t interested in being funny, but in being so unfunny that he became funny. You got the feeling he had cultivated this with years of careful practice. He loved to pronounce the word “Pianist” in a very specific way, and he would tell jokes like:
“Hey Dan, how many bass players does it take to screw in a lightbulb? None! The pianist can do it with his left hand!”
And then, this is the key, he would stare you down with a wacky smile until you would sooner laugh than bare the discomfort. For an hour every week for six years, I studied Stairway to Heaven, triplets, and Mixolydian, but mostly, I learned from him how to properly enjoy a pun.
They’re sort of the contraband of humor, puns are. You make one and you sort of look around to see if you’ve gotten away with it. After all, you can rightly expect a hard slap or an admonishing look. When someone laughs at a pun, that’s an event to be celebrated. You’ve either done really well or really poorly (and in the amazing world of puns, the two can be hard to distinguish).
When a stranger laughs, well… they’re not really a stranger anymore. No, the pun maker and the pun appreciator are kindred spirits. They share something in that moment. I imagine it’s something like gay-dar. You look at each other and you know, “we are the same kind of dork,” with a strange confidence. It’s such a particular personality. We’re always scholars, or jazz musicians or scientists or something.
Well, today I came across a geology blog called… All My Faults Are Stress Related.
Now I’m sort of having a pun catharsis.