Jokes are those things comedians tell and Carlos Mencia steals. In this article, we break jokes down into their component parts like some sort of simile... thing.

Just The Facts

  1. Jokes were invented when humans got bored with just farting and laughing about it
  2. Powerful people use jokes as a means to discredit other powerful people.
  3. Winston Churchill had more jokes-per-breath than any other powerful person in history.

Practical Jokes

Practical jokes are the simplest and most dangerous kind of joke. Very few forms of humor can conceivably involve power tools or life-threatening situations, with the obvious exceptions of Dead Baby Joke performance theatre and making fun of Johnny Cash near heterosexuals.

The danger of a practical joke can be predicted on a sliding scale based on the victim's personality, from "Mild-Mannered Guy" all the way to "Oops! Actually a Bear." Another way to determine the potential lethality of a practical joke is to acquire a puppy, dress it up in a Yoda costume, and then brutally kill it in front of the joker.

Did they cry? If not, that person is a sociopath and has no business handling a whoopee cushion and a box of nails.


Sarcasm is possibly the most-annoying and runner-up for the least-understood form of humor. Whenever someone says something sarcastic, the resulting jokes are often just Dennis Miller inflecting surnames.

Sarcasm, as in "Yeah Mom, you should totally get that Ed Hardy tat on your neck, I bet your bible study group would just love it," depends largely on verbal cues for its effectiveness. For instance, if I were to say "Auto-erotic asphyxia is seriously the best thing and is obviously not dangerous in any way," that would not be sarcasm, and I'd be sued for the accidental deaths of hundreds of non-native English speakers, simply because I didn't inflect what was supposed to be ironic or paradoxical.

I'll stop explaining here because I know our readers are well-read and intellectually curous enough to already understand all of this and are in no way mouth-breathing retards with a tiny pair of mismatched shoes where their brains are supposed to be.

Irony and Jokes

Irony always takes first place in the Things People Don't Get race. It's not hard to understand why: humans are naturally averse to anything remotely related to thinking.

The basic definition of irony is "something that is the opposite of normal expectation." A fat man falling down stairs, while hilarious, is not ironic. We expect that to happen, since he has challenged gravity on its own turf and can't actually see anything below his vast pectoral flab. On the other hand, a fat man rapidly losing weight while eating a diet consisting entirely of fried sugar is ironic to most people, but not to me, since I am completely aware that fat people hire crews of tiny men to hollow them out to make more room for fried sugar.

Irony is the lynchpin in many different kinds of jokes. Sarcasm, as illustrated above, sometimes relies heavily on irony for effect. It's possible to use irony in an almost unlimited way to create layered, sophisticated jokes, but sometimes simple jokes are the most effective. Ironic misdirection is the basic form of such humor.

If I were to say "You are a gay homosexual with a mustachioed boyfriend," that would not be an ironically misdirected joke; that would be me insulting you and your waiter and possibly your waiter's mustachioed boyfriend. However, if we change that statement slightly, we see that it becomes our intended result:

"I'm not saying you're gay, but proctologists know less about assholes than your boyfriend's mustache."

The first part of the sentence directs expectations away from the "you are a gay" thesis, and the second part rope-a-dopes you into taking a big hot mouthful of irony.

Of course, it could be argued that such a comedic trope as "I'm not saying X, but..." is now commonly expected and is thus not ironic, but anyone who says that is just mad that I outed their mustache's butt fetish.

Similes and Metaphors in Jokes

Similes and metaphors are analogous comparisons of two or more subjects. Similes use "like" and "as" to make the comparison, and metaphors use "direct comparisons of death and jerking off" because poets are gross.

Metaphors have traditionally been considered superior to similes, which is understandable. They're more elegant and possess more of a poetic-artistic quality than similes. But poets are generally not funny people. The funniest thing Edgar Allen Poe ever did was jam a pencil in his urethra, and it didn't even rhyme.

While metaphorical comparisons have been de rigueur for basically forever, similes have silently been making their comeback like some sort of silent comeback-making thing.

To illustrate this, we'll break down a perfect simile using an example from none other than Cracked's own Seanbaby. On the subject of D-list celebrity Spencer Pratt:
"Spencer is semi-furry and beady-eyed..."
No one can argue with that: Spencer Pratt is beady-eyed, and anyone can see that his fur is semi at best.
Anyone could make that observation, and it isn't really a joke; even Spencer's re-animated plastic voodoo wife can tell you he's got the facial hair of a 14-year-old Croatian girl. But that's not when the magic happens; it's when the "like" comes in that the situation changes:
"Spencer is semi-furry and beady-eyed like someone bought an Ewok costume to fuck and then lost interest while shaving it."
Unless you're a regular reader of Seanbaby's column or are a reanimated voodoo wife, you weren't expecting that. No one was. There are psychics 200 years in the future who can't see that insult coming. More to the point, it couldn't have been accomplised with a metaphor; a metaphor wouldn't have had the same sense of confused urgency: "His face is an Ewok costume: bought for fucking but forgotten while shaving."
It's a little more euphonious, sure, but anyone who draws poetic comparisons between Spencer Pratt and anything else is doomed to a life where Spencer Pratt is everything else. The beauty of this simile, aside from the fact that it will literally kill Spencer Pratt if he ever reads it, is that it's so elegant.
The entire premise is accepable because of how understated the thesis is. You never question it. From the get-go, you think "Of course people buy Ewok costumes to fuck! Why else would they buy them?" And then he hits you with the rest of the simile and you're left reeling with the joke-logic.