Some jokes you tell because they are really funny, some because they are silly, some because they give a humorous insight into something you are already discussing. And some you tell because it is THE absolutely perfect, once-in-a-lifetime, situation to tell them. This Irish Undertaker joke is one of those jokes.
I love jokes. I especially love telling jokes. Not that I have anything against reading them in books or emails, it’s just that I think telling them out loud is best, and it’s a fine way to continue the oral tradition of humor. I have been blessed (cursed) with a great, almost encyclopedic, memory for jokes. Once I hear a joke that I like, I immediately tell it out loud to someone, and then it magically gets stored in my brain. Sometimes my brain’s filing system is very logical – golf jokes with other golf jokes – but sometimes things get stored in some really strange ways. But, I can usually retrieve a joke if a topic stimulates my brain the correct way. It can be frustrating when a joke has been summoned from my file, but it is not a social situation where that joke would be appropriate. So, a lot of jokes go untold. And the once popular practice of standing around and telling jokes seems to have been replaced by the electronic “Sharing” of other people’s memes.
Some of the jokes in my memory bank are really great! Some are clever. Some have great characters in them. Some are for family audiences, and some are not. I’m not a big fan of really long jokes, where someone does something on Monday, then going back on Tuesday, and then finally goes back again on Wednesday for the punch line. I AM a great fan of the short joke. However, I am not a great lover of the pun, except for the mental exercise it provides the teller. And finally, the story of the “Irish Undertaker” joke.
Years ago I was hired to do my comedy/magic show for the folks at Lockheed Martin for a St. Patrick’s Day party they were having at their plant in Fort Worth. After going through the tightest security I have ever gone through, I was shown to the auditorium where the show would take place. Security was so tight that when I asked where the rest room was I was escorted to the men’s room by gentlemen who waited for me outside the rest room, and then escorted me back to the auditorium.
We went through the usual pre-show routine, checking lights and sound; and then it was show time and the audience came in. When I was introduced I ran in from the back of the theater and up on to the stage. I grabbed the mic and halfway through my first sentence the mic cut out. Then it was on, then off, then on. I checked the cable and felt that it was not in the mic all the way. So, I pushed it in and heard a click. The mic was on for good now. I looked at the audience, and a joke I had heard 20 years before popped into my head. I had never told this joke before, because it’s not really a joke. It’s more of a snappy line that would only be delivered in a very, very specific situation. I had never been in that situation until this very moment – performing on-stage, on St. Patrick’s Day, with a mic that was failing but is now working. Here’s what I said: “Don’t worry folks – I’ve worked with more dead Mike’s than an Irish Undertaker.”