The 10 Worst Jokes I’ve Ever Written

Someone once said “Thank God the audience doesn’t see the first draft.” Well, in today’s blog post you DO get to see the first draft! Some of these efforts are so scatterbrained that to call them “bad jokes” gives them more credit than they deserve. In other words, no premise, no punchline, no problem!

Jerry Seinfeld once characterized a successful joke has helping the audience to cross a deep chasm. If the chasm is too wide – if the connection between the premise and the punchline is too convoluted or complicated- then the audience falls in the chasm and there is no joke. If the chasm is too narrow – if traversing it is too easy – then there is no release, no titillation. The attempts below to get my comedy engine running generally belong to the former: pertinent details are left out, the train of thought can’t be followed and in the end, there is not a bad joke, but no joke.

Forthwith, then, with the 10 worst jokes I’ve ever written.

1 You know where I tend to put on weight? In the bathroom. Clearly I don’t get my best ideas in the bathroom.

Like most husbands, I like to make everything I do sound more manly than it really is. For example, I don’t tell my wife I’m “going fishing”, I tell her I’m going “hunting for fish”. Then I throw in an “Uga! Uga! Me go trout farm!” This isn’t the worst joke I’ve ever written, but it’s completely out of character for me and I can’t imagine pulling this one off in front of a paying audience. Also, for maximum effect I would have to pound my chest and most physical mannerisms beyond removing the microphone from the stand are beyond me. Maybe I can sell it to Robin Williams.

People are very accomodating in Maine. I went to buy a newspaper in Bar Harbor and I didn’t have enough change so they accepted a two Canadian nickels and a Pepperidge Farm cracker. This is clearly a naked and sad attempt to exploit the comedy potential of a punchline that contains both the words “Pepperidge” and “cracker”.

4 I drove from L.A. to New York once. And after so much rural U.S., it’s nice to arrive at a place where there’s all services. This is a joke that I can never seem to make work and yet it keeps popping into my head from time to time. I think the idea is funny, but conveying it into words has eluded me. In my mind I see the Manhattan skyline in the background and a sign that says “Welcome To New York – All Services”. I need a slide show.

5 People like to approach comedians and tell them jokes – no other proffesionals have this problem. Nobody goes up to Wolfgang Puck and says “I’d like you to check out this meatloaf I’ve prepared.” Here we go again. Meatloaf. Puck.This is another “Insert-favorite-comedy-word-here” effort. Lazy!

6 I couldn’t fall asleep last night so I did what I sometimes do when I can’t fall asleep and that is I counted women. I think I got them all, but I still couldn’t fall asleep so I started counting sheep. I think I got them all… Get it? I sleep with sheep!

7 You ever get undressed for bed only to realize you haven’t been wearing pants all day? I guess that’s a guy thing. It’s not a funny thing, either

8 I like to leave little notes in my kids’ school lunches. Nothing profound – just little reminders, like “Lucas, remember that when you’re in math class today, I’ll be at home getting quietly hammered.” Ha ha! Jokes about telling my kids how I drink alone while they’re at school! It works for Ray Romano, right? People eat this stuff up!

9 My wife and I are settling into marriage now. For example, we each have our own side of the bed. Sabine always takes the right side and I always lay across the top. Eeuuww! Inappropriate visual!

10 I was very young when my grandfather past away but I still remember his last words: “I’m pretty sure this isn’t a supporting wall.” I’m pretty sure this isn’t funny joke, either.

If you managed to navigate your way through the less-inspiring entries in my comedy journal, I salute you! You deserve a palate cleanser…

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8 Tips For Starting Out In Stand-up Comedy

Here are some simple tips for those who wish to try their hand at stand-up comedy.


People love to be told how wonderful they are, but they don’t usually find it funny. To the extent that your attitude toward the audience is a factor, contempt is far better than genuflection. Better still that your material be directed outward, without apology, than inward. Be honest – it’s refreshing, funny and the easiest thing to remember.


The audience wants someone to take charge and they want it to be you. Like the pilot of the plane, it helps to look like you know what you’re doing. You should have an air of authority. Think of George Burns and his cigar or Ron White and his glass of bourbon. I always wear a suit onstage – a nice one. And all things being equal, who do you think the audience will side with – a guy in a sharp suit or the guy in the Corona visor and the tribal armband tattoo? Remember, the audience is looking at you far more intensely they are listening to you when you first come onstage. It’s often said that “A haircut and a shoe shine will only take you so far.” True, but at least they start you off in the right direction!

During the zenith of male peacockery – the 1970’s – Steve Martin was relatively subdued in an all-white three-piece suit. Why? He knew that if he looked wild and crazy and acted wild and crazy that he would be like a lot of other comedians. But if he dressed normally and acted wild and crazy, well, then he would stand out (not to mention allowing him to tap into the regular Joe’s dream wish to become the life of the party).


What’s the worst thing that can happen onstage? Far from a rhetorical question, it will serve you well to imagine the worst-case scenario taking place on stage and you, the hero, dealing with it with preternatural calm. (In reality the worst thing that usually can happy onstage is a non-functioning microphone). If it’s a highly unusual situation, you don’t even have to be funny: 9 times out of 10 if you’re calm and can still form complete sentences, well, then you da man!

If you wish, write and rehearse some stock lines for commonplace scenarios such as a broken glass, a chatty table or a heckler. Remember, the audience aches for you to take charge.

You might find it useful to recite a simple mantra before you go onstage. I have a handful of different mantras that I sometimes use before a show and one of them is “Nothing fazes me”, which I repeat over and over (I’m pretty sure that’s what a mantra requires). Other mantras I use are “I’m having fun up here” and “My zipper is up”.


If you’re calm, the audience will be calm. If you’re irrepressible, the audience will be irrepressible. If you’re worried about what your next joke is, so will the audience. Can you fake your demeanor? Of course you can – you do it all the time. If you’re the meditating type, consider doing some before each performance. If you have any doubt about your ability to memorize your material, spend extra time committing it to memory. Do whatever works for you so that moments before you go onstage you can take a deep breath, inhale and tackle your job without looking over your shoulder.


One of the nice things about stand-up comedy is that the world is your oyster. Do you really have so much material that you’re going to limit yourself to relationships and Lindsay Lohan? On the other hand, don’t try to stem the tsunami of material you’ve been writing about egg whites. Sure, maybe you risk being pigeonholed as “The Tool Guy” like Tim Allen, for example, but I’ll wager that it’s the kind of pigeonholing most would benefit from. Think of it as your hook!


None of this is mean to persuade those with moral or religious objections to adult humor, but most people understand that versatility is generally a good thing. I hope this doesn’t shock you, but there are decent people in this world who would like to see a show that’s unsuitable for children. In fact, there’s a burgeoning U.S. city unabashedly dedicated to entertainment for grown-ups called Las Vegas. President Reagan even emceed a floor show there for a while. If you are capable of doing stand-up using language and themes that the vast majority of adults use everyday among their peers, don’t be afraid to do so! If you can work both clean and dirty then its’ no different than Starbucks offering both hot and cold coffee, thereby bringing more value to more people. Ka-ching!

I only ask one thing: if you work clean, please don’t engage in that obnoxious form of moral exhibitionism that requires that you point out and celebrate it with the audience, i.e., “In today’s world where so many people feel you have to tell dirty jokes to be funny, it’s so refreshing….”) It’s like carrying a drunk girl to her bed and bragging the next morning about how you didn’t’ put a move on her.


I’m self-deprecating on stage. Very self-deprecating. Extremely self-deprecating. I hate myself. All of this is fine, except that I also tend to be overly-sensitive and insecure and when I add self-deprecation to the mix, I sometimes get in trouble. The best advice I ever got in this regard was from a wonderful comedian and my good friend Jeff Wayne. He said “Unless a joke gets no reaction whatsoever, you should just continue on without commentary.”

It’s sometimes tempting to call attention when a joke gets a weaker response than that established by the audience’s “laughter baseline”. The majority of times I do so, however, I end up only alienating the audience. I can hear the audience thinking “We’re having a ball here – why are you micro-analyzing our every response?” If you work quickly onstage, you can often get away with with a joke that falls completely flat by segueing immediately to the next joke.

But if there’s an elephant in the room and you work slowly like me, you’ve got to say something. Be prepared to win them back with a hilarious impromptu line (which you carefully crafted years ago on the back of a cocktail napkin).

Remember, it’s a war, not a battle. So listen to the audience, but don’t be in be in thrall to any one moment on stage.


Comedians are not generally known for their looks. On the contrary, stand-up comedy is one of the few professions where good looks are considered an occupational hazard. Take me, for example. I am a handsome man, there’s no way around it. I take no credit for it, it’s just the way it is. You don’t think I see the way audiences look at me when I walk onstage? It’s always the same: the women looking at me and beaming, the men looking at their women and frowning. I haven’t even spoken into the microphone yet and I’m already behind the 8-ball with all the guys in the audience and, in a way (and for the same reason) many of the women, too. But I’ve got one great thing going for me: I’m 5’5″ and 117 pounds. In other words, I’m a little man. And I don’t mean in a shorter-than-the-national average kind of way, either: I practically represent the lollipop guild.

My diminutive stature has been a gold mine for comedy. Forget all the material it generates – it mellows what otherwise might be perceived as a threat. I’m no longer just smart, funny, good-looking and successful: I’m smart, funny, good-looking, successful and small enough to do my shopping at Baby Gap. The same phenomenon is at play when I do material about married life. I can’t count the times I’ll see a holdout in the audience – usually a woman – with a look of consternation on her face. Then I begin telling good-natured jokes about married life with kids and I can practically hear a collective sigh of relief.

So remember, talk about those aspects of your life that are unsatisfying: winners are boring.


I Think I Have A Protruding Disc

About seven years ago I was standing in a bar and noticed a deep, dull pain on the right side of my neck. I’ve had it ever since.

I was doing a considerable amount of running in those days and was accustomed to various aches and pains, at least from the waist down. Especially my hip and heel: it’s the damnedest thing but I’ve never had a knee problem.

Anyway, I did the smart thing and started stuffing toilet paper into my tennis shoes. My feet have very little arch and are completely “squishy”: when I stand the arch disappears entirely. My self-diagnosis was that my feet were protesting about the lay of the land and wanted new scenery and only toilet paper stuffed into my shoes could provide it.

After looking at my x-ray a doctor diagnosed me with what she called “military neck”: the vertebrae of my neck curve the wrong direction, like a soldier standing ramrod straight. I forget which direction your neck bones are supposed to curve but mine were definitely curved the wrong way, like a backward question mark at the beginning of an interrogative statement in Spanish. I suspect the reason is that the doctor and her assistant were attractive young women (this was in Boulder, Colorado) and as I stood there posing shirtless for the x-ray my male vanity kicked in. I remember it kicking in.

Among the the activities I avoid are push-ups. The day after doing push-ups (or later the same day) the pain becomes more pronounced. Sitting at the computer for extended periods also exacerbates the problem. I still do that, however. Priorities.

I just googled “disc, condition, back” and came upon this. The woman is holding the right side of her neck, which is the same side of as my neck pain, lending credibility to the site in my eyes. Stretching seems to provide temporary relief and also a sense of energy and relaxation. I rarely do it.

A friend of mine sometimes speaks to groups and asks people in the audience to raise their hand if they believe drinking 10 glasses of water each day would improve their health. Hands go up. Then he asks them to raise their hand if they actually drink 10 glasses of water each day. Hands go down.


Outsourcing Medical Care – Stockholm, Sweden

If you think that the homeless and mentally ill are only qualified for tasks such as washing windshields or heavy-lifting, then you are hopelessly behind the times. I used to think the same way, but recently the jobs which I have been able to outsource to the homeless include the painting of the interior walls of our living room, an oil change for my car and, with less success, some crown work.

A case in point is this woman in Stockholm, Sweden. Although a homeless alcoholic, she is nonetheless fully qualified to perform simple therapeutic procedures such as massage, acupuncture and, in my case, a spinal tap.

Why waste time and money with “medical doctors” when you can get perfectly good care from a self-described “sick human being” who hasn’t slept indoors in a month? Why lose sleep over affordable health insurance when you can receive perfectly good care in exchange for a warm Grolsch and some smokes?

When you see a homeless person, you’re not looking at someone who has cut himself off from his family or made “poor choices” involving drugs and alcohol. You’re looking at a medical professional, a lawyer, a cobbler.

Now that I think of it, you might really be looking at a cobbler.

World Pole Dancing Competition – Las Vegas, Nevada

Who are we kidding? They can call it the “World Pole Dancing Championships” all they want – I call it “Competitive Stripping”. Don’t you think it’s odd that in the 20 year history of this competition it has never been won by anyone not named Candi or Lexi?

Now that I think of it, maybe pole dancing is a sport. And maybe lap dances are appropriate at your parents’ 50th wedding anniversary.

They want me to believe that pasties are really just sporting equipment? This “competition” is nothing more than a showcase for bachelor party bookings. After some of the routines even the judges were making it rain, for crying out loud.

Now they want to put pole dancing in the Olympics. True, the first Olympians competed in the nude, but the first Olympians most certainly did not go on smoke breaks in plain view of arriving customers in clear violation company policy.

British Restaurant – Marmara, Turkey

AP – Marmara, Turkey – The world’s first “British Restaurant” opened its’ doors today in this popular tourist destination. Normally considered a contradiction in terms, the proprietors believe there is market outside of England for black pudding, cucumber sandwiches and jellied eel.

“We decided to go with an Italian name to lure in people who otherwise would never dream of going out of their way to eat British food” said the owner, Mark Burroughs, adding that he had flirted with cutesy names such as “Cold Meets”, “Spotted Dicks” and, in a moment of quiet desperation, “Fish and All-Your-Chips-On-The-Table”.

Haggis, the traditional Scottish meal, is conspicuously absent from the menu. “Sheep intestines? Please, that’s disgusting” said Mr. Burroughs, who hopes to serve customers coagulated pig blood while calling it “pudding”.

Burroughs says that the key of his enterprise is to overcome the perception that other than a decent breakfast, the British have lost their culinary minds. As of press time it is unclear why the the British don’t simply extend the positive breakfast trend of warm, edible food and extend it to lunch and dinner.

In related news, France has announced the development of a new car that the world has not exactly clamored for.