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Getting laughs isn't easy for the humor-impaired, but here's help

August 22, 2003|From Associated Press

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. — Know your joke by heart. Don't announce in advance that it's going to be hilarious. And never say "But seriously ... " when you're finished.

If you can't tell a joke -- or if you don't know any -- help is coming to your nearest newsstand. Reader's Digest, which sees 35,000 attempts at humor every month, is offering several articles in its September issue to aid the humor-challenged, including "How to Tell a Joke," "Who's Funny Now" and its lists of the best jokes and funniest films of all time.

"We just really thought that people could use a laugh," said Executive Editor Marcia Rockwood.

This month, the Chappaqua-based magazine is inviting readers to call in and tell a favorite joke over the phone. It will be recorded and judged and the five best performers will get the chance to take the stage at a New York City comedy club.

Of course, the Reader's Digest brand of humor is mild, especially when it comes to sex and religion.

"We're in the Seinfeld, Cosby, Jay Leno type of humor," Rockwood said. "We don't do nasty."

Leno is among those quoted in the article on joke-telling.

"Never say 'but seriously' after a joke," he says. "It doesn't work. Just move on to the next joke."

Bill Scheft, a writer for David Letterman, says: "Don't get halfway through the joke and start to improvise. Like, don't say, 'Oh, I forgot, the guy was 6-foot-7 and dressed as a marionette.' "

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