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怎样毁掉一个笑话

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讲笑话,抖“包袱”,可不是个容易事儿:要么是说的人自顾自津津乐道,把听的人绕得一头雾水,莫名其妙;要么是听的人一根筋寻根问底,把说的人逼得语无伦次,没辙没招。不信?瞧瞧下面这一家子,你就知道——笑话儿,能被毁到这个份儿上!



A classic joke goes like this: A nurse rushes into an exam room and says, “Doctor, doctor, there’s an invisible man in the waiting room.” The doctor says, “Tell him I can’t see him.”

Pretty simple, right?

Here’s how I tell it: “A nurse—her name is Joyce—feels a presence in the waiting room. She looks around but sees nothing. She jumps up from her desk, carefully replaces her chair, and runs down the lavender-hued hallway to the doctor’s office. She knocks on the door. No response. He’s not there. Where can he be? She continues down the hall, admiring a lithograph of an 18th-century Mississippi paddleboat along the way.” By this time, my audience has left, but I soldier on4). “She bursts into the exam room and says, ‘Doctor, doctor!’ The doctor, I should mention, is a urologist with a degree from Ohio State, which is where my nephew …”

You get the idea. I’m an embellisher. I can’t leave a simple gag alone.

I’m not the only joke-challenged member of the family. My sister’s worse than I am. Her problem: She can’t remember them. “‘A nurse rushes into an exam room and says…’ Uh, let me start all over again. ‘A nurse rushes into a waiting…’ No, it’s not the waiting room. She just came from the waiting room. Let me start all over again. ‘A doctor rushes into…’ No, wait…”

My uncle’s different. He’s guilty of taking a perfectly fine joke and selling it as the second coming of Oscar Wilde: “Okay, this is a good one. Ready? No, really, ready? Okay, fasten your seat belts. Ready? ‘A nurse…’ Got it? A nurse? Okay, ready? ‘A nurse rushes into an exam room and says, “Doctor, doctor, there’s an invisible man in the waiting room.”’ Now, this is where it gets funny. Ready?”

No one is ever ready, so they leave before he gets to the punch line.

My father’s on Wall Street, so he hears all the jokes before they hit the Web. And he lets you know he knows them all by telling you all of them. He also knows that most people don’t like jokes. So he slips them in under the radar: “I was chatting with Ben Bernanke the other day. You know Ben, don’t you? The Fed chief? Anyway, we were reviewing the Fed’s policy on long-term interest rates, and he told me it had evolved into its current iteration only after a nurse rushed into an exam room and said, ‘Doctor, doctor, there’s…’ Hey, where are you going?”

My brother Mark understands that the secret to good joke telling is to know your audience. When he entertained my grandmother’s mah-jongg club one evening, he made it a point to adapt the joke to them: “A stacked nurse rushes into an exam room…”

No one in my family has ever finished this joke.

But as bad as it is not to be able to tell a joke, there’s something worse: not being able to listen to one. Take my cousin Mitch.

“Why couldn’t the doctor see him?” he asked.

“Because he’s invisible,” I said.

“Now, I didn’t get that. I thought the doctor couldn’t see him because he was with a patient.”

“Well, yeah, okay, but the fact that the guy was invisible…”

“Could the nurse see him?”

“No. She’s the one who said he was invisible…”

“How’d she know he was there?”

“Because he…”

“When you say he was invisible, does that mean his clothes were invisible too?” Here’s where I tried to walk away.

“Because if his clothes weren’t invisible,” Mitch said, stepping between me and the exit, “then the doctor could see him, right?”

“Yeah, but …”

“At least his clothes.”

“I guess…”

“Unless he was naked.”

“Okay, he was naked!”

“Why would he go to his doctor naked?”

Next time you see my family and someone is telling a joke, do yourself a favor: Make yourself invisible.



一个经典笑话是这样讲的:一个护士冲进诊疗室喊道:“大夫,大夫,候诊室里有一个隐形人。”医生回答说:“你告诉他,我看不见他。”

就这么简单,对吧?

可我是这么讲的:“一个护士,她叫乔伊斯,感觉到候诊室里有个人。她四处张望,却什么也没看到。她从桌子旁跳开,小心把椅子放回原处,穿过淡紫色的走廊跑到医生办公室。她敲了敲门。没有应答。他不在里面。他能去哪儿呢?她继续在大厅里找,边走边欣赏一幅平版画,画的是18世纪密西西比河上的桨船……”讲到这儿时,我的听众已经走掉了,可我却还是硬着头皮往下讲:“她冲进诊疗室大喊:‘大夫!大夫!’那个医生,我得告诉你,是一个在俄亥俄州获得学位的泌尿科大夫,我的侄子就是在那里……”

你明白了吧。我这人特喜欢添油加醋,我不会放过任何插科打诨的机会。

我并不是我们家唯一不会讲笑话的人。我姐姐比我更糟。她的问题是她根本记不住。“‘一个护士冲进了诊疗室喊道……’,呃,我重新再来。‘一个护士冲进候诊……’,不不,不是候诊室。她是刚从候诊室过来的。还是让我从头开始吧。‘一个医生冲进……’不不,等一下……”

我叔叔的情况又有所不同。他的毛病是,一个很好笑的笑话,他一讲起来,那架势就跟自己是奥斯卡•王尔德再生一样。“各位,这个笑话特别好笑。可以开始了吗?不不,真的,可以开始了吗?好的,系好安全带。准备好了吗?‘一个护士……’你明白吗?知道护士吗?好的,我就要开始讲了。‘一个护士冲进了诊疗室,喊道,“大夫,大夫,候诊室里有一个隐形人。”’听好了啊,马上就要到最搞笑的地方了。准备好了吗?”

没有谁真的准备好听他的,他还没来得及讲到最好笑的地方,人家都走光了。

我爸爸在华尔街工作,所以那些笑话在网上流传之前他就听到了。为了让你知道他什么笑话都听过,他会把所有笑话都讲给你听。他也知道大部分人都不喜欢笑话,所以他会先东拉西扯,然后冷不防地把笑话插进来:“前几天我在和本•伯南克聊天。本,你认识他吧?就是那个美联储主任。不说他了,当时我们正在大侃美联储的长期利率政策,他告诉我利率变成现在这样子,就是有一个护士冲进诊疗室大喊:‘大夫,大夫,那里有个……’喂喂,你去哪儿?”

我弟弟马克深知讲笑话的秘诀在于了解你的听众。一天晚上,他想取悦我祖母的麻将俱乐部成员,于是专门对笑话进行了改编,以适应她们的口味:“一个身材婀娜多姿的护士冲进了诊疗室……”

我们家就从来没有一个人把这个笑话讲完过。

不会讲笑话当然很糟,但还有比这更糟的:不会听笑话。我表弟米奇就是这种人。

“医生为什么看不见他呢?”他问。

“因为他是隐身的啊,”我说。

“这我就不明白了。我认为医生看不见他是因为他正在给病人看病。”

“这个,是啊,不错,可事实是这家伙是隐身的……”

“护士能看到他吗?”

“看不见。其实就是护士说他隐身……”

“那她怎么知道他在那里呢?”

“因为他……”

“你说他是隐身的,是说他的衣服也看不见吗?”听到这儿我就开始想走开了。

“因为如果他的衣服不是隐形的,”米奇边说边向前拦住了我的去路,“那么医生也应该能看到他,对不对?”

“对的,但是……”

“至少应该能看到他的衣服。”

“我猜是……”

“除非他什么都没穿。”

“好吧,他什么都没穿!”

“他为什么什么都没穿就去看医生呢?”

下次你碰到我家人,不管他们谁在讲笑话,一定要帮自己个忙:变成隐形人!
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