I’ll be honest and be the first to say that I will laugh at almost anything. I’m silly like that. And what’s worse, I’m the type of person who will milk a good joke until it’s dry and then I will put it to rest only to raise it from the dead a few weeks later. I’m not very picky either. I laugh at myself too.
I’ll take a good religious joke any day. Lately, I have particularly enjoyed jokes about our president and King Dalindyebo. I love demotivationals. I’m a sucker for the Zulu special my mother loves to tell. Sipho sees a snake in the garden and almost collapses in fear and shock. His boss says: “Don’t worry, Sipho. It’s only a snake.” Sipho screams: “No boss, ayisineki, iza ngqo.” I die every time.
I draw the line at HIV and rape jokes. It’s this little preference that makes me a hypocrite. What makes it okay for me to not want to hear jokes about topics dear to me when I laugh like I’m getting paid at things close to other people’s hearts? Nothing makes it okay. It’s just that…er…mh…you see…when you hear something funny, you don’t have a few seconds to dissect the content and decide if it would be appropriate to laugh, especially with those punchline that come out of nowhere. It’s human nature to immediately burst out in laughter when someone throws a good joke around, or is it? (*wonders what studies show.) And let’s be frank here, sometimes the bad jokes are killer.
Maybe one must try to remember the three ‘W’s’ before launching into comic banter; who, when and where. The thing with jokes is that they are only funny depending on 1. who you tell them to, 2. when you tell them and perhaps most importantly, 3. where you tell them. One certainly does not expect one’s preacher to break off into a ‘Little Johnny’ joke during the Sunday service. The president of a country can’t joke about poverty during a strike for jobs and writers for a popular men’s magazine should, most certainly, not joke about corrective rape on social networks.
To add a twist to things, I suppose I could add another ‘W’ nje for control. ‘W’ for ‘what’; what kind of impression do your jokes make about you? If you are trying to pick up a girl; making jokes about your ex, and women in general, is not the future. Telling vulgar jokes during a crucial board meeting might not be what your ‘Operation: Get That Promotion’ needs. However, telling explicit sex jokes with your partner might just be the tension-reliever your dull sex life needs. I hardly think that it’s okay to break the ice with a Muslim joke if you are looking for a job at a shop owned by people who have a sign which reads: “Closed for Mosque on Fridays between 12pm – 2pm”.
To play it safe, I think we should keep the four ‘W’s’ in our thoughts before we blurt out something that could cost us our friends, our reputations, jobs or worse, our friends and family.