I don’t know if they are all lame, but mine certainly is. Obviously an incredibly intelligent man, he is able to explain a complex topic in ways that even a English major like me can understand. He is a gentleman and a scholar and I cannot fault his reasoning or teaching abilities. But his jokes are horrible, cringe-inducing affairs. He is prone to puns and eye-roll inducing turns of phrase. Examples?
“So you see, many firms like to make a big deal about receiving the corporate seal from the secretary of state because clients love to get their own stamp. It makes a big impression.”
“In this balance sheet hypothetical exercise, let’s say that our imaginary corporation buys a crate of champagne. So that they can have liquid assets.”
“A corporation that doesn’t incorporate correctly can still be considered as a corporation if the court is willing to ignore the flaws. It’s called a “de jure” corporation, as opposed to de facto. In this example, we would have the Campbell’s Soup de jure corporation.”
But like the best of Grandpas (the undisputed king of horrible unfunny jokes was my own grandfather), he has a certain self-deprecating awareness that makes even the most tortured pain bearable (if not actually funny). He sort of pauses and relishes the dead air and crickets chirping that follows every futile stab at funniness. His commitment actually makes the jokes work. Sort of. This is my first corporate law class, so I can’t say if lame jokes are endemic to corporate law professors or not. Is this sort of humor present in other disciplines My old torts professor could drop the occasional doozie, but I don’t recall the groans being as audible as they are for my current would-be comedian.
The main problem is that my own sense of humor tends towards lameness and cheese. This is well-documented. I am not immune to the siren’s song of the bad pun and the daily exposure to other’s lame jokes may be making me more prone to dropping bombs of my own and it may be working against me. In a recent job interview I made not one, but two dumb jokes. I’ll spare you the whole set-up, but one involved me expressing surprise at Bruce Springsteen’s out-of-breath Superbowl performance (because he was born to run) and the other involved expecting my interviewers to be bigger and more muscular because the name of the street that the office was on sounded like a euphemism for steroid use. I’m not saying I didn’t get the job because my puns were horribly lame, but they probably didn’t help.
There’s always academia…