Telling Jokes and Genetics · 14 December 2007

My wife, the Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi, thinks that timing, joke telling, and a general sense of humor was genetically passed from my dad to my son, Thing 2. A study of simple genetics shows how this could be possible. After all, recessive genes can skip a generation. For example, parents who have brown eyes can have children with blue eyes. While an internet search on genetics and recessive genes may not totally clarify the issue of whether blue eyes are indeed due to recessive genes, I must conclude from my own study of my family that timing, joke telling, and a general sense of humor must be due to a recessive gene. Which is how I got none and Thing 2 got them all.

I can not tell a joke to save my life. I can either tell the joke all the way through and forget the punch line or I can remember the punch line but completely forget the setup of the joke. I have been this way as long as I can remember. Looking back, I must have been dropped on my head a few too many times because all of the rest of my family can tell jokes except me. My dad, my brothers, my sister, and even my mom can tell jokes. As a matter of fact, I never realized that I was saddled with such a debilitating condition until I had kids.

I never really thought that not being able to tell jokes was a bad thing, until Thing 2 started talking. Right away, he was able to hear a joke and repeat it. With perfect timing and delivery. He was barely able to speak when he started telling knock-knock jokes. Okay, maybe he did not start quite that early but it sure seemed like it to somebody with neither timing nor the ability to tell a joke even if he could find the right time to tell it. That was when I thought that telling jokes must be genetic and I got my joke telling gene from the shallow side of the gene pool.

Actually, it was my wife who first pointed out that I got the short end of the stick. The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi is ever ready to point out that I have some flaw or another. Maybe it is just that she wants to take down such a perfect specimen of humanity or maybe it is the fact that I think so highly of myself. Either way, she likes to point out that Thing 2 is a much closer to perfect specimen that myself. He can tell jokes with perfect timing and he never forgets the setup or the punch line. He has a great sense of humor. Not like his father before him but rather just like his grandfather before him.

Still, life is not completely unfair. I get laughs from people I know. It is true. Unfortunately, they laugh at me rather than with me. But that is okay. I give them plenty of ammunition with stories of my ineptitude and debilitating genetic conditions. And that is good enough for me. While I do not have timing, joke telling ability, or a sense of humor, I am glad that I can provide others with a few laughs. Even if it is at my expense.

© 2007 Michael T. Miyoshi

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