One night, I went out drinking. The next morning, I woke up in a cell.
That is, of course, not the full story.
The first thing I saw upon opening my eyes were big iron bars. I, of course, sighed, ‘Oh, great’ under my breath, but then I saw what lay beyond those bars. Walls made of monochrome stone, and a large metal door. Illumination was provided by orbs hanging from the ceiling, which did little to add colour to the setting. The stench of mildew and rot was everywhere. My “bed” was a large plank of wood, above a black stone floor. A black stone floor stained with red.
There was a cell next to mine, and there used to be a person in it. What was left of that person remained.
Just as I was about to rummage around for something to pick the lock or something like that – well, I had to try something – the door opened. In came a creature that seemed appropriate for this setting, yet out-of-place at the same time. Though the creature was extremely obese, just barely getting through the door, its tiny legs somehow supported its body. It had skin as white as bleach, which, combined with its body shape, made it resemble a snowman. A snowman with bulging red eyes and rows and rows of jagged teeth. For clothing, it wore a tie and a collar – without a shirt or suit, like Yogi Bear – and its tiny feet were fitted with tiny black shoes.
It wobbled towards me, took a glance at the cell opposite mine and then back at me. ‘See that there?’ I could only nod. ‘He had nothing to say. Nothing funny, nothing interesting. Made us think maybe it was wrong to watch humans. But just for a minute.’
He smiled, revealing all his little sharp teeth. ‘Yes, we like watching you humans. See this outfit? I saw a human wearing something like it, so I thought, I’ll wear it, but only the parts I like. But I digress.
‘When I watched you, you were among friends, and they were laughing at what you were saying. If you could make them laugh, you could make me laugh. So go ahead.’
That went through my mind over and over, until I forced my mind to think of a joke, and I blurted out the first joke that came into my mind. The one about the man at the pub talking about a building and if you fall off it, a gust of wind brings you back to the top. As I told the story, the creature’s wide grin was slowly replaced by a tiny frown. At least I didn’t have to see his sharp teeth then, but that was the only relief I could find at that moment.
‘How was that supposed to be funny?’ The creature arched an eyebrow, or at least, did his equivalent of it. ‘What did you say to those friends of yours that made them laugh?’
TheyonlylaughedcauseIwasdrunktheyonlylaughedcauseIwasdrunkthinkofajoke think think think of a joke
A monster from another world wouldn’t know what that last joke was about, I thought, think of something more universal. Light. The orbs dangling from the ceiling have light in them. Everyone knows about light. Good jokes about light.
‘I…ate one of those orb things,’ I said, ‘and it made me light-headed!’ It was the best I could think of in these circumstances.
He didn’t laugh. I wasn’t even granted the relief of not seeing his fangs – he bore them as he growled at me. He flexed his fingers, with claws that resembled fishing hooks.
‘They only laughed ‘cause I was drunk!’ I cried out loud.
The monster’s wide grin returned. ‘Oh, it’s beer that’s needed, is it? Well, that’s probably the best thing you humans have ever created!’ He wobbled away, out of the room, and my heart finally slowed down. Then I thought that perhaps this would be the time to make my triumphant escape, and looked around for things that might aid in it. The cell next to mine had bones, so I tried to reach for one of them in case that would help.
Before I could even grab it, the creature returned, carrying a stein full of booze. As soon as he came in, I stood firmly as if I were in the army. Through the bars, he grabbed me by the throat, and forced the beer down my throat. It tasted more or less about the same as most beers I’ve had, yet one stein and I already felt tipsy.
He brought more steins, and he brought them quickly. Then I said things and he laughed at them.
I still am forced to sleep in his dungeons. What’s more, I’m forced to go onto a stage daily, so more of those creatures could see me drunk and laugh their heads off about it.
But at least I get free beer out of it.
Welcome to the Joke Shop,
The best joke shop in town,
It has everything and more,
For the aspiring clown.
We have all the classics,
Squirting flowers and bowties,
But our more expensive wares,
Those can warp your mind.
Do you see this special hat?
Let me take it off the shelf,
When somebody wears this hat,
They think they’re someone else,
Plop it onto your friend’s head,
And many laughs you’ll get,
When he thinks he’s Churchill
Or Marie Antoinette.
Write a story on this computer,
Any type will do,
Then you press this button,
And all will believe it true.
Your story will get reported as fact,
The 10 o’clock news it’ll make,
And everyone but you and me,
Won’t know that it’s fake.
If there’s someone you despise,
And you want him gone,
Why not buy this policeman?
He’s a lot of fun,
He’ll arrest your foe for crimes,
He won’t even have committed,
All will believe the policeman though,
So your foe won’t be acquitted.
So come on down to the Joke Shop,
Just give it a whirl,
We have jokes and tricks and pranks,
That’ll change the world.
Have you read about Wonderland?
That world strange and magic?
Well, there’s a creature from there,
Whose life was quite tragic,
Everybody knows about
The White Rabbit,
Who was late all the time,
It became a bad habit.
And he had a good job,
A herald for the Queen,
And it paid rather well,
Even if she was mean,
But he arrived late,
One too many times,
And the Queen shook the ground,
When she bellowed, ‘YOU’RE FIRED!’
So now the Rabbit had no job,
And he lost Mary-Anne,
For he had no money,
He had to sell his gloves and fan,
But he wasn’t beaten,
No, not just yet,
‘I’ll go a-travelling,
A new job I’ll get!’
So away he hopped,
And now he would roam,
Away from Wonderland,
Away from his home,
He’d go to other lands,
But not for a vacation,
To make a new start,
And find a vocation.
He met an owl and a pussycat,
That had a pea-green boat,
They hired him to serenade them,
As their vessel did float,
The White Rabbit had a new job,
But he lost it quick,
Because when the boat set sail,
One day he hopped by,
A great big shoe,
Out popped an old woman,
‘I have a job for you!’
The Rabbit said, ‘Really?
What have you got?’
He hopped away when the answer
Was ‘Get in the pot!’
Soon he found himself in the
Magical Land of Oz,
The biggest fantasy world
That there ever was,
‘I’ll get a job here,
And this is where I will live,’
said the Rabbit, ‘This place
Must have so much to give!’
But there, wicked witches,
Tried to make him die,
And there were constant tornados,
And houses fell from the sky.
He delivered for Red Riding Hood,
But almost got eaten by a wolf,
He made porridge for the three bears,
But got fur in their bowls.
But he found a new job,
One that couldn’t fail,
And it wasn’t for a
Character in a fairy tale.
So if you want to make him happy,
Give a welcome that’s hearty,
And hire him to perform
At your kid’s birthday party.