Humor gets so much attention. The ability to make someone laugh is prized so highly in our culture these days. (Can you imagine how much more ass P.G. Wodehouse would get if he were alive today and, say, living in Williamsburg as opposed to someone like James Joyce? Wouldn’t even be close. J.J. would be blindly onanizing himself every night.)
Take the idea of a joke, for example. A joke is a unit of comedy as old as language. Since we had the ability to say words, we’ve been doing our best to arrange them in ways to make ourselves laugh. I don’t know if any of what I’ve said in this paragraph is true or not, but it sounds authoritative, so I’m leaving it.
But what about sadness? Sadness always gets picked last at the emotional pickup game of life. Just go with this for a second please. Why don’t we have something similar to a joke, a pithy few lines that, rather than make us laugh, might have the ability to make us deeply sad.
Call them “dokes.”
Obviously, like the good cooking show host that I am, I have already prepared the dish. Here are two dokes:
A guy walks into a crowded bar and has a beer by himself. He thanks the bartender then blows his own brains out. Later, police find a suicide note in his room at the nearby motel. “My biggest fear has always been dying alone,” it says. “Bad enough to have lived my whole life that way.”
A doctor walks into an office where two people, a husband and wife are waiting with worried faces. “Your daughter has six months to live,” he says. Later that night, in the quiet pediatric oncology ward, they tuck her in together and kiss the top of her smooth head.
What's wrong with us, Chris Onstad?