Here’s the skinny: I work the late shift on Thursday, meaning I get off around 5am and I have to be back to open in less than 12 hours, making Friday a short day for me. There’s just enough time to sleep, eat, shower…and make a daily post in this blog. So I thought it would be a fun game to make it into a project by asking people who came into the bar during my shift last night (this morning) if they had a favorite guy-walks-into-a-bar joke.
Most people did not. Most people, like me, claim to be really bad at remembering jokes for more than, say, two hours. Several people responded with the corniest and dumbest guy-walks-into-a-bar joke of all, the one where the punchline is simply “Ouch.”
Ouch is right. No soup for you. Even I, who fail to remember jokes for much more than a day or two, have a go-to in the genre: A horse walks into a bar. And the bartender asks him, “say, why the long face?”
Oh, in case it’s necessary to mention, the guy-walks-into-a-bar joke genre is all-inclusive of jokes where it’s not necessarily a guy, and it’s not necessarily a bar. Also, for the sake of this little exercise, they couldn’t be too offensive or racist or filthy, and they had to be fairly brief. Some of my results, as you’ll see, flirted with those rules.
Ben Smith, of New Orleans, offered the first real keeper. Ben was drinking a Guinness, and hanging at the end of the bar with friends. His first try was both too long and too garden variety. It was the old one about the string that walks into a bar, and ends with the punchline “I’m a frayed knot.” I heard that when I was like 15. Sorry, Ben, but this is a serious game. Come back when you’re ready to pull out the big guns.
He did. Ben redeemed himself a minute later with this gem:
A photon walks into a hotel. The bell hop approaches and says, ‘may I check your bags, Sir?’ And the photon says, ‘No need, I’m traveling light.’
Shazam! That’s what I’m talking about! Apparently, Ben had just been warming up.
I don’t think anybody really knows the origins of the guy-walks-into-a-bar joke. Surely, they must be as old as bars themselves. Reading the Wikipedia entry that attempts to explain the genre reads very much like a joke itself. “The initial perception of the joke is that a man is walking into a bar to have a drink, but this only lasts a few seconds as the punchline is quickly uttered.” Is that so, Wikipedia? You coy genius, you.
Kristin Staley and her friend Davy Griffith are hanging out down there with Ben. Kristin has been drinking lemon drops on the rocks and texting her stepdad to help her come up with a keeper. That’s allowed. I don’t care how you come up with your joke. I’m just a hooker for a funny bar joke. Kristin and Davy are not from New Orleans, they are from Nevada City, California. They are on a cross-country trip to deliver a friend’s dog from Atlanta to Los Angeles, and tomorrow night they’ll be in Austin. Hold on, that wasn’t the joke. This is the joke:
A screwdriver walks into a bar. The bartender looks up and says, “hey, we have a drink named after you.” The screwdriver says, “you have a drink named Jeff?”
Ba-da-bing. A new twist on an old classic. I’ll just pretend, for the sake of material, that it came from Kristin and not her stepdad. Anyway, we’re on a roll. A few minutes later, further down the bar, I hear a good one from local Laura Walch. I make Laura tell her joke twice, and she messes it up the second time while speaking into my recorder. It’s okay though. It’s the kind of joke you can only tell once properly:
This guy walks into a bar, and he’s trailing a giraffe behind him, and as soon as he crosses the threshold, the giraffe drops dead. The guy walks right up to the bar, as if nothing is wrong, and says, “hey bartender, can I get a beer?” The bartender says, “you can’t just leave that lyin’ there.” And the guy says, “it’s not a lion. It’s a giraffe.”
Punchlines with puns don’t always translate well on the page. It’s because you can pretty much see it coming. Even in person, the most you can hope for is an eye-roll and a groan. But it’s a smiling groan. And speaking of not translating well, there’s a Guy sitting at the opposite end of the bar. No, really…a guy named Guy walked into the bar last night while I was collecting guy-walks-into-a-bar jokes. I’d never seen him before, and he doesn’t have a joke for me, and he doesn’t need one, quite frankly. The man is shadowed by a punchline every time he enters a watering hole. I buy him a beer. He deserves it.
If you do a google search for “a guy walks into a bar”, you get a plethora of sites that are chock full of good ones, plus a lot of pretty lousy ones. The first site I stumble across has this one right at the top:
A rabbi, a priest, and a Lutheran minister walk into a bar. The bartender looks up and says, “Is this some kind of joke?”
Okay, okay, I’m not going to cheat by lifting jokes from cyberspace. I couldn’t resist that one. But it defeats the purpose of the game. Anyway, the game yielded a couple of more good crackers before the night was done.
Around 3am, New Orleanean Doug Acton and his friend Abby Carpenter, from Los Angeles, are having a nightcap on the corner of the bar. Red wine and a Jameson rocks. Doug, the handsome fella, is up for the challenge: “Have you heard the one about the two whales?” Why, no, Doug, I haven’t heard that one.
These 2 whales walk into a bar, and the first whale approaches the bartender for a drink. The bartender says, “what can I do for you?” And the whale goes [and this is where Doug went into his whale song imitation, which consists of loud undulating moaning noises that sound much like a person without a tongue trying to order a pizza. It goes on for some time, the longer the better. If you don’t know how whales sing, google it]. Finally, the second whale snaps at the first whale, “Bruce, shut up! You’re wasted!”
Okay, that’s another one that doesn’t work written down, but it’s funny when you hear it done well, trust me. And Doug, he did a good job. It might be my favorite so far. Until a little later, as I’m closing up the bar. I’ve collected enough material for this post, and I’m tired, and ready to go home and sleep so I can get up bright and fresh for my next shift. The only joke I want to hear is the one about the guy walking out of a bar. And then I get this one from my friend Rebecca Leigh. She is having a club soda and sitting with her boyfriend Matt, who just got finished tending bar upstairs. This one might be my favorite:
A bunch of blondes walk into a bar. They’re all chanting loudly, “E-LEV-EN DAYS! E-LEV-EN DAYS!” The ringleader of the group breaks away from the boisterous horde and walks up to the bar to order a round. She is the blondest of them all, and is clutching a small box under her arm. The bartender looks at her and says, “What’s that all about?” And she giggles and says, “What’s what all about?” The bartender is patient because he has waited on blondes before. “Why are you all chanting that? What happens in 11 days?” The blonde demurely lifts the box up in front of her, and the bartender sees now that it’s a jigsaw puzzle. “This puzzle says right here ‘2 to 4 years,’ crows the blonde, “and we just solved it in 11 days!”
Thank goodness. I was beginning to think my experiment, and my shift, would never run it’s course. Wait, I’ve got one more. It came to me just now:
A reader walks into this post.