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Word Story: Jokes

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"Jokes" are funny stories. You tell a story and hope that the ending, what is often called the "punch line", will make the listener laugh. Let me tell you one and let's hope I at least get a smile. A man who is very fond of going to the theatre to see" thrillers", sometimes called"detective stories" or "whodunits" (because you have to find out who has committed — "done" the murder) goes to see a play but has a very bad seat.

He asks the "usher" (someone who shows you to your seat) if he can find a better seat because he wants to work out who the murderer is and promises he will give him a very large "tip" (a lot of money for the service). The usher finds him a good seat. The man gives him just ONE penny. As the usher walks away, he says to the man: "By the way the butler does it with the candlestick!"

There are two verbs associated with "jokes — tell and make". You "tell jokes" or funny stories if you do what I have just done by "telling you a joke about" the man in the theatre. You can also "make jokes about someone". This means that you make fun of someone you know or if you are a "comic" or "comedian", someone who does this for a living, you will invariably "make jokes about" famous people and very often politicians. A "joker" is someone who is always "telling jokes" or playing tricks on people. It is also the word for the one odd card in a pack of playing cards. One useful expression connected with "jokes" is what you say to someone who asks you to do something really dangerous like bungee jumping: "You must be joking!"
Author: Alan Townend