When And How To Tell Jokes
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
It is not unusual for a group to spend an hour or more in exchanging jokes or stories, but such conversation soon be-comes wearisome and ceases to please. Don't add your story unless it is better than any that have been told and you are sure that too many have not al-ready been related. Re-member that any story should be told only if it is interesting, if it is relevant, if it is in good taste, and if it has a good point.
Don't laugh at your own joke, at least until everyone else has shown that he liked it. Don't giggle all the way through a story or laugh before you come to the point. Don't lose the point of the story as did a young woman who said to her brother:
"You're a salesman so you'll like this story. A salesman came into his office at night and someone asked him how he felt. He said, `Pretty independent; I didn't sell anyone anything today.' "
"You mean," replied her brother, "that he said, `I didn't take orders from anyone today.' "
When you have told a story successfully, don't tempt Fate by telling another immediately. Turn the spotlight of attention on someone else by saying, for example, "John, what was the story about your guide in Italy last year? That was even more amusing than my experience."
If John doesn't tell his story exactly as you think he should, don't correct him or attempt to add details. It is his story. Courtesy demands that you let him tell it as he will.
Don't Wander From Your Subject
When you tell a story or relate an incident, leave out irrelevant details and make every statement support or give impetus to the action. Never be guilty of letting each statement lead you into a by-path so that you finally are far away from the original point you wished to make. Mrs. W., for example, started to tell about her amusing experience during her first golf lesson, but she lost her way:
There I stood in my new golfing costume, with my new bag and clubs but without the vaguest idea of what to say or do. The pro came over to me—he's Scotch—I just love to hear a Scotchman talk, don't you? I remember when I was in Edinburgh—that's a darling place—we stayed right across from the castle .. .
Although the recital continued for some time, she never did get back to the story of her golf lesson.