A member of a joke-tellers club invited a curious friend to his latest function. After they had eaten their dinner, an official took to the stage and declared to everyone’s joy that the joke telling should begin. The friend watched in amazement as a woman stood up and shouted, “Forty-two” and people burst into a fit of giggles. Then, an old man followed with, “One hundred and fifty-nine”, and the whole place erupted into peals of side-splitting laughter. The friend asked what on earth was going on and was told that it was a great time-saving strategy. The people knew all the jokes so well that all they had to do was be reminded of the joke number as it appeared in the club handbook and everyone would remember the punchline and be unable to contain themselves.
Starting to look a little convinced, the friend asked if he could try and got the nod of approval. As the next joke finished and the response was quietening down a little, he stood up and bellowed out, “Thirty-three”. The whole place fell into a deathly silence as people looked blankly at him. “I don’t understand”, he said, “I just called out a number like everyone else and got no reaction from anyone.” “Mate”, came the reply, “You’ve got to remember the first rule of good joke telling. It’s all in the delivery.”