Wednesday, 17 September 2014

A joke memory

Three of us, all blokes, were tootling down the M1 in heavy traffic. For some reason we began a brief conversation about jokes. Did we know any? Well we didn't because we aren't the kind of people who remember jokes so that conversation didn't last long.

I started me off on a train of thought though - how many people do remember jokes and why do some of us forget them so easily? I must have heard thousands of jokes but in the car couldn't recall a single one. None of us could.

Maybe jokes lack hooks which attach them to our longer term memories. Maybe they aren't socially useful, or at least many of us don't find them socially useful because we don't want to be labelled as a joker. Such people aren't taken seriously and most of us don't want that.

Is that anywhere near right? I don't know, but it's interesting. I'll mull it over before looking up some internet opinions.


Sam Vega said...

I think it is due to the way in which jokes are used. To establish and reinforce identities and status differences, by and large. (In this they are very different from humour, or wit.) And there is a strong element of controlling the listener - of manipulating them and eliciting a particular response with a set-piece routine that you know has worked before.

If people have a need to manipulate others, then I reckon that they will be more inclined to remember jokes.

FrankC said...

I can remember jokes that I've modified.
E.g. The Buddhist pizza parlour joke.

Grinning customer comes up and says "make me one with everything. Pizza maker stifles a grimace and makes a pizza with all available toppings. "That'll be £15.75".
Customer hands over £20 note. "Hey where's my change."
Smiling Buddhist pizza maker says "Change come from within."

Demetrius said...

Did Magna Carta die in vain?

A K Haart said...

Sam - sounds likely, but the joker is a problematic identity. Although the listener is controlled, the effect is temporary and higher status social interactions are to some extent relinquished.

Frank - I'll try to remember that one - but I've said that before.

Demetrius - now that's one I do remember, but it's the way you tell 'em. I'm no Hancock.

duffandnonsense said...

Ha! Do you remember the one about . . . oh hell, neither do I!

A K Haart said...

David - was that the one about the gay seagull... or was it the man with three ears... no they've all gone.