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04/11/2007: Long Tall Funny
Generally, it's a good rule of thumb that shorter jokes are better. But every now and then it's the length and complexity of the joke that makes it work.
When I worked on Ellen we did a bit once where she was stuck at the top of a rock-climbing wall in a gym. She yells down instructions to her friend. The line was something like this:
Okay. I need you to find out where the manager is, then I need you to go to his office, and ask him to please turn off the gravity.
You may disagree, but I contend that this is funnier than simply:
Turn off the gravity!
For me, this line is funny because she's presenting it as if it were rational, and the hyper-rational beginning is what achieves that. Here is another joke from Ellen that relies on its sincere and elaborate set up. The line was delivered by Karen, Ellen's girlfriend's ex-girlfriend (take a moment to figure it out) who is trying to intimidate Ellen by implying she had a better relationship with Laurie, the girlfriend, than Ellen does. The line was approximately:
I remember once I came home to find that Laurie had filled the place with candles, and there was a note that said, "Every one of these flames will eventually burn out, except the one in my heart." And then we did it.
The sincere build-up makes the crudity hit all the harder. So don't panic if some of your jokes look a little long. You might be using something like this to your advantage!
Lunch: iceberg salad with chicken. I love warm chicken in a salad.