Inspired by true events.
The Punchliner. You know him. You’ve sat behind, beside, or in front of him at the theater. He’s the guy who brags that he was the class clown in high school, but if you ever meet any of his former classmates they’ll assure you that it was a self-appointed title. The problem is that he’s gotten progressively less funny in the last 20 – 30 years, and that’s quite a testament to his ineptitude in the comedy department.
In desperate need of an ego boost, his life mission is to yell out jokes and snappy punchlines during inopportune moments of a movie with the full expectancy that the theater will erupt in uproarious laughter and ask him why he doesn’t have his own TV show. You just better pray he’s not attending a screening where a cast or crew member from the film is present. A moment such as that is what The Punchliner likes to refer to as an audition.
Examples aren’t hard to come by because Mr. Punchline will often resort to the same tired jokes, particularly when movies resort to the same tired scenes. Imagine – if you will – you’re watching a horror movie. The current scene involves tense music and a girl walking around a room very slowly. All of a sudden the phone rings. As the girl picks up the phone, The Punchliner is ready and rarin’ to go – “Hey baby, whatcha wearing?” he says loudly, just to make sure everybody hears him. Nobody laughs. He must regroup and try again.
He doesn’t have to wait long for his next opportunity. The girl, alone and afraid in her house, hears a knock on the door. As she slowly approaches the door, The Punchliner clears his throat and sits up in his seat. He’s ready now. He’s got a sure bet. It’s time to showcase those comedic skills. “Candy gram!” he yells out. You see his head turn from side to side, fruitlessly looking around the theater to see if anybody is laughing. The room is quiet, and the air is still. The deafening chorus of crickets doesn’t deter him, unfortunately.
He’ll go home, pull out his Joke-A-Day book (published circa 1985), and sadly, he’ll try again. We’re not looking forward to it.
How many unfunny jokes can one man tell before he realizes nobody’s laughing?
How many ears must one man have before he can hear the silence?
How many times can a man turn his head, pretending he doesn’t see the dirty looks people are giving him?
I wish I had an answer, but I don’t even think it’s blowing in the wind. The Punchliner is just a character in our comic book of life that moviegoers will forever attempt to resist but never manage to defeat. At least not without the help of The Movie Mark…