A funny thing (didn’t) happen on the way to the comedy festival…

The other day I went to see a Comedy Festival show (and when I say “the other day”, I don’t really mean “the other day”. This is a comedic device to give a joke a sense of topical relevancy. Truth is, I haven’t seen a Comedy Festival show since 2019, but if I opened with “713 days ago I went to see a Comedy Festival show, taking into account last year’s COVID-cancellation and the leap year”, it just wouldn’t have the same narrative immediacy or rhythmic snap to it).

Truth is, I haven’t seen a Comedy Festival show since 2019.Credit:iStock

Yeah, so I went to see the Comedy Festival show with my mate Dave (I don’t really have a mate Dave. Dave is an imaginary character-construct to imbue the joke with relatability and internal dynamics – everyone can visualise a Dave, everyone is fond of a Dave, Daves are universally-recognised loveable buffoons. If I said “I went to see the Comedy Festival show with my mate Eyeowulf”, it would be jarringly distracting – unless I was going to a Viking Comedy Festival in 800AD, and then it could work. Though Dave would still work better).

So me and Dave were heading to the show (yes I know “me and Dave” is poor grammar but I am taking on a low-status non-threatening persona to make the reader feel intellectually and socially superior, even though I know in my heart I’m way smarter and classier than them). Then Dave said to me (there is no Dave), “Hey Danny, want to hear something funny?” (now I am trying to elicit laughter through telegraphed anticipation – an effective stand-up strategy when the quality of the material is substandard. No I am not confident with this story).

So I say to him, here’s what I say, I say to him, “Oh yeah, I wanna hear something funny” (it’s important to create a casual conversational delivery, like I’m just riffing in a jazzy spontaneous way even though I’ve worked on this story for several weeks. Okay, not weeks. That’s using hyperbole to provoke a surprise-response of amusement, but I probably didn’t need to mention it, this is an aside, things are getting a little meta).

You know the actor Matthew McConaughey?Credit:Getty Images

“Well” said Dave (no Dave), “You know the actor Matthew McConaughey?” and I said “Matthew McConaughey?” and he said “Yeah Matthew McConaughey!” (okay, repetition is not the highest-grade of wit, but it’s a handy time-filler, and I really need to stretch this story, there’s not a lot to it). “Right, listen to this” said Dave, “It occurred to me that if Matthew McConaughey married the Aussie actress Mandy McElhinney, they’d become Mr & Mrs Matthew & Mandy McConaughey-McElhinney!” (Dave didn’t think of this line. My wife thought of it the other night. And when I say “the other night”, it was like six month ago. She mentioned it to me and I found it mildly funny so I wrote it down and now it’s mine. Not my wife’s. Or Dave’s. There is no Dave).

Mandy McElhinney.

So I said “Ha ha! That’s hilarious! HAHA HAHAAAAA!” (I’m fake-laughing uncontrollably, manipulating the reader into thinking this joke is riotously amusing, even though each uncontrollable-laugh has been meticulously rehearsed. Yes I am desperate). Then I said to Dave, “Well how about this? If Mr and Mrs Matthew and Mandy McConaughey-McElhinney adopted Home Alone actor Macaulay Culkin, he would become Mr Macaulay Culkin-McConaughey-%$#@-McElhinney!” (I probably didn’t need to swear here, but swearing is a handy laugh-accelerant, adding much-needed zest to an insipid punchline).

So folks, that’s the funny thing that happened when me and Dave went to the Comedy Festival the other day (not so funny. Not the other day. Didn’t go to the Comedy Festival. Should be “Dave and I”. There is no Dave).

Danny Katz is a Melbourne humorist.

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