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You’re A Clown Fish. Tell Us A Joke

December 5, 2014

Clint, you’re a comic, right?


Tell us a joke.

What do you do?

I’m a carpenter.

Build me a chair

I have a lot of friends that are comics and comedians. This request annoys them. Most of them work very hard at their craft. Stand up comedy is the one of the few professions where the only way to practice is to get in front of a live audience. It’s why big name comics, the guys we call headliners still go to clubs. Jerry Seinfeld, Sarah Silverman, even Conan O’Brian will hit the clubs to work on new material. The late, great Robin Williams would show up at clubs unannounced. (Robin was known as a joke stealer, so you always wanted to be careful what material you used.

So, why should a comic be annoyed when someone asks for a joke?

The same reason any professional is frustrated with people wanting free services. I have many friends who are editors. I wouldn’t ask them but many aquantences will ask them,

Hey, could you just take a look at this thing I wrote and tell me what you think?

That’s what an editor gets paid to do. Don’t ask them to do it for free.

I have lawyer friends who struggle with the same thing. Everyone wants free law advice, when often all a lawyer has to sell if her advice.

My family members were CPAs. I haven’t done my own taxes since the 20th Century. Am I a hypocrite because I get my brother to do my taxes? I don’t think so. I have at times when I lived closer, been his technical support. I have access to less expensive copies of software. (Yes, they’re legal. But, when you’ve been in the industry as long as I have, you learn how to get into discount programs.) We never keep track of how much the favors we do for each other cost. But, I’m guessing I did better on the deal.

But, that’s the thing. It’s a mutual agreement. I don’t help all my family with software, and my brother doesn’t do all family taxes for free.

Back to our comedian friends, a comic on stage is working. When you approach him on at a party or on the street and say, “Tell me a joke,” you are really asking him to go back to work . . .for you. . .for free. If you are a family member, or a close friend, maybe he’s fine with that. But, if you’re just someone he met at a social gathering, you probably aren’t going to get a joke.

We deal with a similar issue in IT. I used to hear it when I worked for Microsoft.

You work for Microsoft? Really? Awesome. Hey, I’ve had this problem with Windows can I tell you about it and see if you know what’s wrong?

No, please just shoot me instead.

Again, friends? Family? You’ll get a different response. But, for other people try rebooting with out saving your data. Dogbert Technical Support suggests that one all the time.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild.

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