The Joke

by Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski

it often happens when the party is
going well,
somebody will say, "wait a minute, that
reminds me, I heard this
joke, it will only take a minute and I
promise not to tell
more than one."
he leans forward and begins to tell
it, and this is the worst part because
you know it will not be funny, and even worse
than that, not even plausible, but he goes
on as your stomach feels as if you had
eaten a rotten egg, your reach the punch
line long before he gets to it, then he
looks about.
there is silence, no laughter, not even
a smile.
"wait," he says, "don't you get it?"
"I understand," I tell him.
then he leans back, thinks that I
have no sense of humor, have had a
bad day, or that he has overestimated my
he could be right on all counts, I know
that I often watch famous comedians
who make millions tell awful jokes
while the audience roars with
appreciation and across the nation
numberless others join in from their
living rooms
as I sit there and think, this
stuff is bad, very bad, there's
little doubt about
yet some drunk sits in a room
with me
and is offended because I
don't roll on the rug
when he lays a
dead egg that makes even
the gods
but they are never offended
enough not to return
and toss in a new joke as bad
as the first, or worse,
returning to the first,
having forgotten the previous
in all my decades of joke-
I've only heard one that is
it goes like this-
no wait, I've forgotten

Last updated January 14, 2019