Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. Three golfers step onto the first tee of a muni: a priest, a rabbi and a guy who thinks he’s funny…
Is he? That depends on what he says, and how and when he says it. Unlike scorekeeping, humor is subjective. But there are some rules.
Here’s a 6-point guide to cracking jokes on the course.
1. Learn your audience
Treat the opening holes like a pre-round range session, taking time to ease into your comedic routine. Don’t work blue at the get go. Open with your PG-13 material instead, noting how your partners react and modifying your output accordingly. As with golf, there’s no point taking risks until you get a sense of what will — and will not — fly.
2. Keep it moving
You know those golfers who stop, mid-waggle, to tell a drawn-out joke. They’re not so much funny as they are frustrating. Good tempo with your swing, and good timing with your shtick. Both are key. Save the shaggy dog tales until after you’ve let the big dog eat.
3. Quiet, please
In his role as Al Czervik, Rodney Dangerfield was funny when he tormented Ted Knight’s Judge Smails mid-swing. This just in, though: You’re not Rodney. Don’t crack wise while others are trying to crack tee shots.
4. Pick your spots
Quadruple bogeys can be funny when they happen to someone else, but they’re tough to laugh about in the heat of the moment. If your partner just three-jacked, he or she might not be in the mood for your whip-sharp quips. You can all guffaw about it later at the bar. But for now, hold your tongue. Comedy, after all, is tragedy, plus time.
5. Don’t force it
Humor can be like hitting driver: The harder you try, the worse it gets. If your jokes aren’t landing, back off a bit. Swinging 80 percent gives you a better chance of finding the fairway — and striking the funny bone.
6. Skip the golf cliches
“Nice putt, Alice,” is both sexist and unfunny. Also tired: describing a dead yank as a “Thurman Munson,” or a short, fat shot as a Danny DeVito. Don’t call a putt that comes up shy as a “Fidel Castro,” because it just needed one more revolution. That one is older than your Carl Spackler impression. Speaking of which, if it starts to sprinkle, do everyone a favor and hold off noting that the “heavy stuff won’t be coming down for some time.”