Volume 6, Issue 12; 22 Oct 2022

A lot of humor depends on the right delivery. Is it sometimes prose?

I’m mildly intrigued by jokes that only work (or work best) when read, rather than told.

I assert that the classic, “there are only 10 kinds of people in the world, those that understand binary and those that don’t” is one such example. I know some folks who disagree and think it’s just as funny to tell it, saying “ten” at the appropriate place.

I concede that it works that way. I don’t think it’s quite the same, but perhaps it is just as good.

I was delighted to come across this one the other day in a Reddit post by EnigmaCA in r/Jokes:

How can you tell the difference between a plumber and a chemist? Ask them to pronounce unionized.

Is that a joke that can only be read? I think it’s funnier if the reader has to pause for a moment to work out why it’s funny. No matter how you tell it, whether you say /ˈjunjənaɪzd/ or /ənˈaɪənaɪzd/, I think the joke has a lot less impact.

I seem to recall that Douglas Hofstadter had some in G.E.B., but I can’t lay my hands on my copy of that just at the moment.

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