Hilton Head Monthly — I should first make clear that the two 6-year-olds in the backseat are totally on a sugar high, having recently enjoyed a five-hour “Polar Express” event at the Savannah Roundhouse Museum that featured hot chocolate, icing-loaded cookies and other substances that cause flash floods of cellular-level disobedience to go coursing through the circulatory systems of the average first-grader.
But the fact is that we have been arguing for like 10 minutes about why the word “orange” is required to make the knock-knock joke “Orange you glad you’re not a banana” funny. It’s the most ridiculous argument ever, mostly because I’m right, and yet I feel like I’m standing in the middle of a desolate street in a 1954 pod-people movie screaming “WHY WON’T ANYONE LISTEN TO ME?”
(If you do not know this joke, here’s how it goes: Knock knock. Who’s there? Banana. Banana who? Knock knock. Who’s there? Banana. Banana who? Knock knock. Who’s there? Orange. Orange who? Orange you glad I didn’t say banana? Right. My son is now substituting “apple” and “raspberry” and “turkey,” for some reason.)
If you’ve ever spent time around 6-year-olds with recent access to tubs full of sprinkles, you know what I mean when I say: Children of a certain age bracket — the one my son is in — temporarily subscribe to an especially twisted form of comedy, a shapeless, Andy Kaufman-like system of setups, punchlines and lengthy improvs that bears zero resemblance to any other humor structure on Earth. Yeah — even British. Allow me to demonstrate.
The boy: “Knock knock.”
Me: “Who’s there?”
The boy: “Chicken.”
Me: “Chicken who?”
The boy: “Chicken who ran up the bridge and jumped off of it and got wet when he hit the DUCK IN THE HEAD (15 seconds of hysterical, respiration-threatening laughter).”
And yet, since 6-year-olds are also convinced they are never wrong about anything, particularly when they are laden with some percentage of my DNA, the orange joke has turned into an Argument.
“It needs to be an orange, buddy,” I say, attempting a fatherly, authoritative tone that I rarely use when discussing knock-knock jokes.
“No wait,” my son retorts, the traditional linguistic stall tactic he employs when he’s busy thinking of a reason why the closest adult human is wrong about something.
“It has to be orange, bud, because orange sounds like … ” well you know why it needs to be an orange. Sorry. I forget you guys are grownups.
“No wait,” it comes again, the engines in his head whirring faster. “That’s how you do it, but I can do it however I want.” GAH! The nefarious little litigant has appropriated my tactic of telling him he can draw pictures or tell stories however he wants, and now I either take a stand against creative artistic independence or allow him to believe jokes can contain totally random fruits and still be funny.
“OK, you can do it however you want,” I say, flailing to improvise something that makes sense, retains my air of parental authority and yet conveys my now-obsessive compulsion to get across that this joke REALLY NEEDS AN ORANGE IN IT. “But the original version of the joke has a orange.”
“Apple you glad you’re not a grape,” he says, in a smug tone that suggests he considers the debate extremely closed. I consider stopping the car to draw a graph.
Related, sort of
My son’s friend, incidentally, is totally on my side with this, as he’s taken the opposite position of my son on every conceivable topic that’s come up in the last hour, including whether ghosts are real, whether the Polar Express is real and whether or not their hot dogs were, and I’m quoting here, “tasty.” (Friend: “Tasty.” My son: “Not so tasty.”)
As such, morale backseat is plummeting. The boys are accusing each other of interrupting (or, in my son’s case, “intruptering,” which is too adorable to correct) and attempting to get the other in trouble. Everyone’s turning on each other. One kid painted his face with pig blood. THE ORANGE JOKE IS RUINING EVERYTHING.
Luckily, I am prepared for such eventualities, and prepare to unleash what I unself-conciously refer to as the Best Joke Of All Time. Which it is. I have done my research and run experiments and checked with Wikipedia and everyone agrees that this is the best joke in the world. You may want to sit down. If you’re enjoying a beverage, set it aside lest you spray everyone with wetness that will soon be shooting out of your nostrils. I’ll wait. OK. Ready?
Two sausages are frying in a pan. One turns to the other and goes, “Getting kind of hot in here, don’t you think?” And the other goes, “AAAAUGH! A TALKING SAUSAGE!”
See, kids? Leave the humor to us expert grownups.