Daddy told his jokes the same way heâ€™d ordered pizza, written poetry, and written his doctoral thesisâ€”in APA format. Following the standards of the American Psychological Association, heâ€™d toddle onstage and open up with the oral equivalent of a Title Page. Stating his name and the title of the joke. Yes, his jokes had titles. â€œThis joke is called â€˜Racial and Religious Differences in Drinking Establishment Patronage.â€™â€ Then heâ€™d deliver the Abstract of the joke. So instead of simply saying, â€œA rabbi, a priest, and a black guy walk into a bar,â€ heâ€™d say, â€œThe subjects of this joke are three males, two of whom are clergymen, one of the Jewish faith, the other an ordained Catholic minister. The religion of the African-American respondent is undetermined, as is his educational level. The setting for the joke is a licensed establishment where alcohol is served. No, wait. Itâ€™s a plane. Iâ€™m sorry, my mistake. They are going parachuting.â€ Finally, heâ€™d clear his throat, stand too close to the mike, and deliver what he liked to call â€œThe Main Bodyâ€ of the joke. Comedy is war. When a comedianâ€™s routine works, theyâ€™ve killed; if the bits fall flat, they refer to it as dying. My father didnâ€™t die onstage. He martyred himself for that other unrecognized completely unfunny black man who, just as there must be extraterrestrial life, is out there somewhere. Iâ€™ve seen self-immolations that were funnier than my fatherâ€™s routine, but there were no gongs to ring or oversized canes with which to pull him offstage. Heâ€™d just ignore the booing and segue from the punch line to the Conclusion. The Results of the joke were a smattering of coughing. A chorus of vocalized disapproval and a plethora of yawning found to be significant. Heâ€™d end with the jokeâ€™s Reference Section:
â€œJolson, Al (1918). â€˜Sambo and Mammy Cleared for Takeoff on Runaway 5,â€™ Ziegfeld Follies.
â€œWilliams, Bert (1917). â€˜If Niggers Could Fly,â€™ The Circuitous Chitterling Tour.
â€œThe Unknown Minstrel (circa 1899). â€˜Dem Vaudeville Peckerwoods Shoâ€™ Am Stealing My Shit,â€™ The Semi-Freemason Hall, Cleveland, Ohio.
â€œAnd donâ€™t forget to tip your waitress.â€