A lot of comedians complain about being asked to “say something funny.” Comedians take “say something funny” as a threat. It’s sort of the same response a scientist has when someone demands, “Prove to me right now that evolution is a thing!” Even if the scientist makes a convincing case, the denier is probably going to nod and say, “Yeah. Worms in a lab. Thought so. Deborah could be doing much better than you.”
But there are comedy challenges worse than “say something funny.” For example, “help me say something funny.”
Not to be mistaken with its entertainment industry cousin, “I'll pay you to make me funny,” “help me say something funny” is the bane of all comedians with relatives who have to speak at sales meetings, funerals, and any other situation in which they don't have to be funny but would rather like to. They want to seem clever and surely you can come up with pages of material on APR Financing within the next hour or two. Do it now, clown.
Worse, these relatives and friends of relatives and, Christ, day job bosses are the types of people who are aggressively not funny. The best joke in their quiver is the “Where's Al Gore now?” bit whenever they have to put on their sweater vests. “Inconvenient Truth? More like inconvenient snow! Okay, let's watch CBS!”
What do you do when you're faced with writing bits for people who don't want to be funny? How do you dodge giving your grandfather golfing bits while keeping your fifty-dollar birthday check?
Let this guide be your… guide.
Just say “no.” You're busy. Jesus, it's Thursday and he wants some jokes for his wife's funeral by Saturday? You're in comedy; you work weekends. You'll try your best, but… can he do Wednesday maybe? Huh. Funeral's Sunday. You mean, sure, okay. He might not get the best stuff. Not the best stuff at all. If he really wanted some good eulogy jokes, he should have hit you up last Wednesday. Gone that fast, huh? Wow. Well. If he really insists, you'll try to come up with something.
Ask For Money
This will often dissuade most people. If she asks for it to be a “wedding present,” tell her that you don't believe in a social system that works on trade. Then shake the box you already wrapped for her and ask if, since you're skipping breakfast to bring her something so charming to say to her guests that everyone will be like, “Fuck that wedding was fierce,” you can keep this top of the line gadget. If she asks, “What is it,” just nod a bit and laugh and say, “I haven't been in a good relationship this long for no reason. Hah, oh yeah.”
Research The Subject
Ask him the topics he wants to joke about and do heavy, heavy research. You'll be surprised how fast the bits flow. For example, if he asks you to write some light roast jokes for his son's bar mitzvah and that same son really loves dinosaurs, do a little research on where the two intersect: “Dinosaurs may be dead, but your God never existed.”
Write As If You Were Going To Tell These Jokes, But Sarcastically
Imagine you had to give a presentation on car sales to a group of old white men. Would you talk like you normally do on the phone with loved ones or someone in the industry who might get you a spot on Carson [Daly]? Like a human? Hell no. You'd talk to them like they didn't deserve to look at you, what with their regular lives and their sunrooms. They are garbage. How do you talk to garbage? You talk to it with your nose held high to not smell its health insurance.
And that's how you write jokes for it.
In your snidest voice, like you were making fun of someone who was trying something you're good at, but failing because they're not as good as you.
“As for sales, Toyota isn't stopping — and this time that's a good thing!”
Don't Be In The Room When They Read The Jokes
If it's a funeral eulogy say you've got to take a giant dump. If it's a wedding speech, say you've got to take a giant dump. And so on and so forth. Read your phone as you dump because you're going to anyway and I'm on Twitter, so please follow me: my only source of self-esteem comes from the faint praise I receive from people too busy to understand their importance to me.
Tell Them They Read The Jokes Wrong
Casually ask him how it went. If he expresses disappointment that she didn't accept his marriage proposal, pat him on the shoulder and say he should've stuck to the script. You italicized the word “ass pussy” for a reason; it necessitated emphasis. The product was perfect and his failure to secure an heir-bearer is on his shoulders forever. Also, you told him that you perform on weekends and it was a super inconvenient time for you to write jokes over four days. Fuck you? No, fuck him.
Never Get Asked To Write A Joke For A Family Member Again
Enjoy your solitude. Check phone and Facebook constantly to make sure that nobody who cares for you has bothered you with unwanted attentions.
Mike Drucker is a lovely man with many positive characteristics. He has written for Saturday Night Live, The Onion, McSweeney's, and Nintendo. He's also a stand-up or something, I guess.