Question of the Day

What’s your favorite joke?

Here’s mine: It’s morning in the heart of Africa, and the sun is just beginning to beat down on the cracked earth around a precious watering hole populated by birds, reptiles, and all manner of four-legged creature. Lions slink down to the water’s edge to lap at its surface with broad, pink tongues on one side, while on the other, hesitant zebras bend their long necks to touch their lips to the water, keeping an eye on the maned predators across from them. Wildebeest gather at the far tip of the oasis’ curving edge, their hooves leaving deep imprints in the mud, encircling their young in a futile attempt to protect them from the crocodiles that haunt the murky water. Long-legged cranes dip their beaks in search of tiny fish whose scales glimmer in the sunlight that penetrates the water’s surface, moving about in between the flocks of smaller birds who peck at water striders scooting on the tension at the pond’s top. It is still and silent, aside from the chattering of the birds, until a crocodile makes a move, rising out of the water in one lightning fast move, crashing onto the shore and fastening its jaws on the throat of a young wildebeest. The herd darts and dashes; the zebras begin to hoot in fear. Even the lions are startled from their peace and raise their heavy heads to see what’s going on. As quickly as it began, it is over, and the croc slides back into the water, thrashing about until its young victim is still and the water runs red. The sun inches higher, grows hotter, and steam begins to rise steadily from the water until two hippopotami surface at once, breaking its evenness with blown spray from their gaping nostrils. One turns to the other and sighs. “It doesn’t feel like a Tuesday.”

(This was reportedly Johnny Carson’s favorite joke, too. The more you can stretch out the set-up, the funnier it is—at least to people who find this admittedly rather surreal joke funny.)

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