So these two guys walk into a bar. No, wait, it was actually these three guys and one of them was a rabbi and they were walking into a swimming pool.

And one of the other guys, he might have been a farmer, and they really were walking into Yankee Stadium while carrying a camel.

Or it could have been a talking dog.

Well, no, they weren’t walking at all — they were driving and it was really two women and one of them was working in the circus as a trapeze artist and they were asking the camel for directions.

Or come to think of it, she could have been a he who was the trapeze artist’s priest and who ran into a farmer’s daughter carrying three suitcases, one of which actually had a trapeze or a talking dog inside it.

As younger people would say, whatever, which is young people talk for you screwed up the joke again.

The thing is, I can’t tell a joke.

After several prep courses and occasional cramming, I’m now quite skilled at listening to a joke and mildly chuckling at the appropriate times even when I don’t understand it. But I’ve never been able to actually tell a joke.

Many of us have this problem. No one in my family can tell a joke. It’s an inherited genetic trait, like our inability to do calculus or separate eggs. We all get lost somewhere between the yolk and the joke.

It’s not like I haven’t tried. When I hear a good joke, I try to remember it and tell it exactly like I heard it except I never can remember it or tell it exactly like I heard it.

I’m so bad at telling jokes I’ve had to devise a series of guidelines to help me muddle my way through the procedure.

Here are the rules I try to follow:

Practice the joke. I tell the joke to myself several different times and laugh uproariously times three, five and six. I deliver the joke to an audience of my family, who generally respond with blank looks because they have no idea why three guys would walk into Yankee Stadium with a camel and really they’re just not that interested in sports.

Don’t do accents. This is particularly important because my French accent sounds exactly like my Swedish accent and people start wondering what a Swede is doing with a broken baguette.

Don’t laugh at my own joke myself. In my defense, I only do this because I am concerned that no one else will laugh, so I figure I can start them out and have them continue while I can go and watch the end of the basketball game.

Never start the joke with the punch line. OK, I think I’ve got it now. So these two guys walk into a bar. The third guy ducked.

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