Confessions From a Literal Mind

My husband is funny.  Just had to say that.  He’s a funny guy and sometimes he’s funny without meaning to be, which throws him out of funny territory and plops him directly into the hilarious camp.  Some people are like that.  Thankfully, my two kids are also funny/hilarious so there’s a great deal of laughter in our home.  Until my husband or son tells a joke.  Me and Em don’t do the joke thing, mostly because Em is more into making faces and physical comedy and I don’t “get” most jokes (I’m told this is because I tend toward literal-mindedness) and even when I do, I usually do not think they’re funny, which makes others insist that I haven’t “gotten” the joke, because, the thinking goes, if I did, I’d laugh with everyone else.  I disagree and maintain that it’s a bad joke, but this argument never goes over well, particularly to the joke teller, who’s convinced the joke they’re telling is, by the very fact that they’re telling it, hilarious.  Even if it isn’t. And it isn’t.  Trust me.

Case in point, and this is one of Richard’s favorite jokes, whenever we travel.

Random person:  “How are you?”

Richard:  “We just flew in from New York…” Beat “and boy are my arms tired.”

Me:  expressionless face.  

Richard:  Looks over at me, sees expressionless face and says, “Ba-doom, boom!”

Random person:  Doubled over with laughter, “Oh boy I haven’t heard that one in a while.”

Me:  Look of confusion.  “Wait, what?”  Watches laughing husband and random person.  “What’s the punch line?”

Random person and husband:  As though choreographed, swivel their heads to face me, look at each other, then burst into peels of renewed laughter.

Me:  View of my back as I walk away…  Sometimes I’ll shake my head in an exaggerated display of my (feigned) contempt.

So I have a confession, because… well why not confess these things (?) I’ve nothing to hide…  I do “get” the joke, intellectually, I understand the play on words, I just don’t feel anything remotely like laughter surging through my body because of those words and truthfully, that joke, in my opinion, as well as most others like it are “made” funny with a straight man.  So I, being the thoughtful and generous soul that I am, feel obligated to provide this.

You’re welcome.  *Big grin*

Signed:  “Straight man” aka Ariane

Laura B., Barb P., Emma (ever the performer) and Me (trying hard to keep a straight face)


33 responses to “Confessions From a Literal Mind

  1. I don’t get lot of the jokes either Ariane. Very nicely written, thank you.

  2. I’m like you. I ‘know’ what the joke is saying, but I don’t find it funny either. Drives my bf nuts!

  3. Wait, joke?
    What joke?
    I see a play on words, but I don’t see anything that qualifies as a joke.

  4. I don’t know as a stand-up comedian, I get the joke but its a bit too cheesy. I also have a play-on words joke i often use about how when I heard I was autistic i thought it meant I was predispossed to doin art. So I tried my hand at finger painting, didn’t work, I tried my hand at pottery, that didn’t work. Standing in front of you all I have never felt more autistic than I do right now.
    So maybe your sense of humor is just different than your husband’s I often have found lots of jokes other comedians have done not funny, while the crowd loved them.

  5. I didn’t know you were a stand-up comedian! You don’t say that anywhere on your blog, do you?
    I like your joke, it reminds me of a time in the playground when a dad began yelling at me because Emma was having such a hard time waiting for one of the swings to become free. After the guy yelled at me that my “spoiled” daughter was pissing him off, I said, “it’s really hard for her to wait, but she IS waiting and besides she’s autistic, so she’s doing better than you.” To which he replied, “So what, my kid likes to paint too, who cares?”

    For years after that whenever one of us did something that anyone found funny we’d say, “yeah, well I am an artist, you know…” which we thought was even funnier because both my husband and I are artists!
    But on a more serious note… yes, Richard and I DO have different senses of humor, but our ideas about what’s funny overlap enough that we laugh a great deal, just not over the Henny Youngmen jokes.

  6. Humor. Yet another realm controlled by the subjective that people so often mistake for the objective. I often intellectually understand a pun or joke, but don’t think it’s funny. I tend to prefer what people call “clever” humor.

    As for the “arms tired” joke? Not funny (to me). Many migratory birds can fly for thousands of miles without stopping…and on an on my mind goes…I just get caught up in the literal failure of that so-called-joke. Doesn’t work for me.

    The artistic/autistic thing? I do tend to be amused by that…perhaps because a dear friend often refers to my “autistic abilities” in an honestly kind and appreciative way, yet he is completely intending the pun. While that is not exactly a joke and not funny, it is humor and amusing (to me).

    Your very literal thought process, combined with what seems to be gentle strength, intellect, and an ability to be easily amused, make your blog very readable. In fact, it is my favorite by far.

    • That makes me so happy to read. Thank you. 🙂
      I love that you thought of migratory birds and their stamina… when I first heard that joke, I must admit, I didn’t even get that far I was so fascinated by my husband flapping his arms and trying to figure out exactly what he was doing and why the other person was laughing… :/

  7. Barb (or Ariane please ask Barb)! I have a pic from the DC Hearing on Autism of you! Send me an email if you want it:

  8. OK that “how are you” joke I knew since I’ve been exposed to it before… but it takes me a while to “get” jokes.

    Then do you keep replaying the joke in your head and keep laughing beyond what is socially acceptable? Or is that just me.

    • Oh no! Jane, I didn’t know there was a socially acceptable cut off for laughter! Isn’t that kind of the point, you’re suppose to laugh? Oh you mean for minutes, as in everyone else has moved on and you’re still laughing…. yup, definitely done that! But I think if you do it with a certain degree of self confidence and swagger then people join in and wonder if maybe they missed just how funny it was, or am I completely kidding myself here and they were all laughing AT me?! 😱

      • yes I have an automatic instant replay for jokes, so after I stop laughing (first time around when I “got” it), my brain takes a break to rewind, then I start laughing again. my husband’s gotten used to it LOL but if I’m not supposed to keep laughing — well — that’s what hard pinching of own inner thigh is for.

  9. This reminds me of my seven year old son. We’ll be watching TV and be laughing at something, he’ll laugh hysterically along with us, then say “Yeah, I don’t get that!” 🙂

    Joel is a funny guy too. We were watching Return of the Jedi on New Years Eve, and he does a spot on Yoda impression. Jesse asked him to do his Yoda voice and he said “your hot Mama I bang tonite” – and again, he laughed hysterically, not at all getting the joke but figuring it must be funny cause I laughed. (Disclaimer – he would never say that in a million years if Jesse actually knew what it meant!)

    It’s great being married to a funny guy. My kids are both hysterical in their own ways, too!

  10. Our conductor make a lot of jokes. I do usually get them. I don’t tend to find most of them funny. The rest of the band were always scolding me (since I play the drums) for not doing the expected snare snare crash. I have said he only gets that for jokes that are truly funny not just meh so after many years of training they now pay great attention to the few jokes I do aware a drum riff to.

    A lot of jokes, usually the kind that are not set up to tell you it is a joke I eventually understand but often that beat too late. Often after I have made a remark on the literal content and as I have said before that tends to make me feel dumb. People vary in their response to someone they view as smart missing something everyone else gets. Some can by a bit cruel in their incredulity actually.

    Ideally I would like to be able to put my mouth on pause while I rewind and wait for some clue it was a joke but that has yet to happen.

    I am not a fan of jokes that rely too much on a play on words. I seldom find them funny.

    For 2 years now I have gone to the “Just for Laughs” comedy tour with my nephew as our extravagant night on the town (he’s a student and I live on disability so it really is extravagant but something I always wanted to go to). The first year it was British comedians so I didn’t give much thought to if I would find it funny or not. Comedy at a comedy show is ideal since you know right off the bat it is supposed to be funny. Just like you know that a poem isn’t likely to be literal. This year it was relationships. I did wonder out loud if I had enough of a knowledge base for the content and my nephew wondered too but as it turned out I seemed to have laughed about as much as anyone. I think perhaps the tricky things about relationships are so subtle no one jokes about them but I don’t really know. None of the comedians said anything that was completely baffling to me anyway.

    Laughter can be contagious though. Sometimes that other people are laughing is enough to make a person laugh without a joke. We had to do an experiment on that twice in school and it really does work.

    People often find me funny but I thought to be successful as a comedian that humour would need to be intentional so it is interesting mrasperger you have pursued that. People find me funny I gather because my point of view is not what is expected which is a solid root for comedy but I don’t know they will find it funny until someone points it out. Much of life is just baffling and if people are amused by my bafflement I guess that’s okay but not sure I would want to rely on that to pay the bills.

    • Well, I think you can be very funny, you have a wonderfully dry wit, but I don’t think someone’s bafflement is funny. I think (other NTs can tell me if I’m wrong) NTs often think people they really like are funny. I don’t ever think people I dislike are funny, if I did, I would probably like them better!

  11. Chou Chou Scantlin

    Hee Heeeeeeee…fun post Life is hilarious…literally;) Husbands who tell corny jokes are hilarious, even if their jokes aren’t! I always laugh at people telling jokes, because they are so cute! They get so pleased with themselves:) Joking, I can get, but teasing is a total curve ball. Gareeth, I agree. Being odd can be entertaining without having to tell jokes. Anyone who is a bit strange can find it a great tool to laugh at themselves a bit harder than anyone else can. He who laughs loudest wins. People laugh at/with me all the time. If I don’t get it, I just smile pretty, compose myself, and say, “I am being one with my blondeness”. More laughter. I really like costuming because it is a kind of physical joke! What I create out my physical self is hilarious to me. Good golly gee, what nature gave me physically is a hilarious to me! With my girlyshow look, and hesitant, baby voice, I can appear quite the ditz. I twist the dumb blonde joke around and say to new fans, proudly, that I am autistic…which means I’m only dumb on the outside. (Gee, I hope that doesn’t offend anyone. It’s a joke. Or, if I’m dumb inside, too, well, that’s not because I’m autistic!) Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.
    Oh, and, by the way, Happy New Year Everyone!!!!!🎉

  12. Ok, so um, confession… I got that joke. It only took me two times reading it through. But not for reasons you might think, about the play on words. I read it as “We just flew in from New York…” *Beat* ”and boy are my arms tired.”

    Where the *beat* was him beating his arms. And since I read it and saw the “movie in my head” that I do when I’m reading, I saw Richard standing there, saying “we just flew in from New York” then beating his arms up and down once, then saying “and boy are my arms tired”. I had to read it twice before the connection was made, but I got it: he was flapping his arms as if he flew like a bird! And the visual image of it made me laugh.

    Note that I don’t get most jokes when they’re told. Had I been you in that situation, listening, I wouldn’t have gotten it. I got it because you put the “beat” in the telling of it. 🙂

  13. The thread in the comments about autistic/artistic cracked me up. Shortly after my first daughter’s diagnosis – she would have been 4 and half or so – she began singing at the top of her lungs as we walked down the street one day “I’m autistic, so autistic! I’m autistic!” My husband and I looked at each other, a little confused because we had not yet started talking to her about autism, and not even really talked about it in her presence much. So I asked her what she meant. She replied that she was an ahhhtistic ahhhtist, and was very good at doing ahhht. And then asked if she could watch Mary Poppins again when we got home because she loved they way Mary Poppins talked.
    I really really appreciate this blog, Ariane.

  14. ““it’s really hard for her to wait, but she IS waiting and besides she’s autistic, so she’s doing better than you.” To which he replied, “So what, my kid likes to paint too, who cares?””

    LOL! Some people’s kids!

    I know he probably wasn’t trying to be funny, but honestly, sometimes, the ignorant things people say are more funny to me then jokes are. This is why I started saying, “My son has autism” rather then that he’s autistic, because you never know when someone will think you’re trying to say artistic but either have an accent or a speech impediment of some type. It’s hard to confuse autism with anything involving paints.

    FYI: You are to be commended for making an old, tired joke like the ‘flying from New York’ joke funny, by being the straight man. Sometimes, that gives the best laughter to others! And we straight men are so under appreciated too!

    • So underappreciated!! But Lara, I have to tell you that yesterday after this post was published, Richard tweeted it out with some veiled comment about his “poor clueless wife” all with love and then someone tweeted a joke which goes as follows – A termite goes in a bar, looks around and says, “Where’s the bar tender?”
      So I read that tweet (I’ve rewritten it verbatim) and wrote “Ahahaha I “got” it, but I didn’t laugh out loud, just a weak smile.” 🙂
      I got home from work and Richard said, “So what did you “get”? I said, “what do you mean?” He said, “Well what did you think that joke meant?” I looked at him to be sure this wasn’t a trick and repeated the joke ending with, “… and says, “Where’s the bar (pause) tender?” Richard looked at me and said, I don’t understand.
      I said, “seriously? It’s a termite. He’s looking around for the most tender part of the bar. The bar counter… it’s wood. He wants to EAT it!”
      Richard put his hands over his face and said, “Oh no. I am so humiliated. I’m so, so humiliated..” while I jumped up and down laughing with joy.

      I warned him I was going to tweet that he didn’t get a joke, but that I did, but he looked so mortified I didn’t have the heart. So I’m just telling you and those who are reading this…. 🙂

  15. What’s green & smells like paint? Green paint. That is my favorite. Most jokes don’t make me laugh but 10 minutes of Funniest Videos & I laugh so hard that I wind up crying.

  16. Nope. In this case you’re absolutely right. With apologies to kids everywhere, that joke just isn’t very funny.

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