paul? telling a joke. expressing a joke. “joe miller knows a lot of jokes”. different things, yes?

There’s this song, “when joe miller told a joke.” i heard it in the film, “ziegfield girl”. the lyric goes, “laugh, i thought i’d split my sides, when joe miller told a joke.” the song describes how funny joe is, and gives a couple of examples of jokes he told. i didn’t understand. the song didn’t talk about how he told the jokes, just that he had jokes to tell. the song says, ‘when joe miller told a joke”. “when… told…”, not, ‘hadda lotta jokes.” a poem is like a joke. i’m slow. it took me a long time to figure out that it was just that joe had jokes — he wasn’t a funny guy, didn’t have a way — the song doesn’t talk about his style and timing. joke telling is about style and timing. this is getting lame… what about a written joke? ok, ‘content’… it’s got to be a funny joke, or serve as one. a poem has content. the joke is in ‘space and time’, yes paul? a poem’s content is the author’s feelings expressed in time and space as a poem. a joke’s content is expressed in the audience’s space and time.

“you come into the room, and i must pretend i am not part of you.” — this is supposed to be a poem.

you come into the room,
and i must pretend
i am not part of you.

how do i make this a joke? “you step in and i have to pretend i don’t know you.”

the poem is already in lie-language… ‘ironic’.

you come into the room
and i must pretend i am
not part of you.

chairs, tables, rickety legs
all belong to you —
i cannot touch the world.

a joke includes and separates the audience from a world reality. “watch this guy, he’s going to try to carry two buckets a once.” both poem and joke play on the spirit, just in different ways. what does that mean? “i can’t carry the buckets, boss..” funny. “i cannot touch the world, kelly.” pathetic. ‘i’m going to read a poem. get ready for lots of pathos.’. and, ‘i’m telling a joke, get ready for fun.’. I read a comic poem by dorothy parker — it’s a one-liner joke spread out in cosmetic line breaks. it’s funny. it’s a poem — it’s ‘verse’, really. it’s prose in a format. “baloney on a roll.”…

“we’ll go to coney,
and eat balony on a roll”, talking about ‘hot dogs’ on coney. lorenz hart. a funny thing to say.

most people think a poem is a funny or sad thing to say. like a joke, but not serial? like, no, ‘tell us another!’… that’s not true. ‘read us another.”

but, still, the poem is supposed to be about talking about an event in the author’s life… an account of something which moved the author to write a poem. Henry James often found his plots in the news papers. his stories and novels won’t be called ‘poems’ by anyone not selling them on e-bay. ‘hype’ is funny. a joke hypes a situation, close up and personal about the private. “– this PFC walks into a bar…” — jokes are contagious, they open up. poetry opens up. two guys go into a bar. the one says, ‘wait a minute, i don’t drink!’. the other says, “ask for the powdered bourbon.”

it depends on where the telling is told. a word object in a poetry magazine, or a word object at a comedy club. you hear how an actor can read out the telephone book and get a sob. also, how the good comic can get a laugh from it. it’s what’s emphasized? “get this, his name is ‘percale’… who names their kid ‘percale’ in the last two centuries’? ( emphasis on ‘percale’ and ‘centuries’ ). it’s precious though, shows the limitations of comedy. — “‘percale’ is the family name, gave its name to the cloth… manufacturing county — the dukes of percale’.” an interesting story. ‘wait a minute, i’m telling a joke!’. “I’m reading my poem.”

a joke is worded to describe an event. a poem is worded to describe an emotion. can that be right? The joke manufactures an emotion. but, that’s what a poem does. is it only about the ‘kind’ of emotion — how complex and thoughtful the emotion. some jokes make me think about human nature, make me thoughtful. verse does that too. but, a poem never reduces the world to an event. the event in a poem is the author’s writing the poem.

jokes and verse tell stories about happenings. poetry creates a happening by telling a story. — jeez, that sounds cheap. but, i’ll leave it like this for now.


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