Amazing Kids! Magazine

Project Joke

By Sarina Patel, Jr. Assistant Editor


What is a joke?

“First off, you gotta know the answer to this: What’s a joke?” my uncle mumbled one morning. It was one of those arbitrary 2 a.m. conversations, fueled by a strong cup of black Colombian coffee.

“Start with that,” he yawned, stretching his beefy Tamil arms. He’d moved from India when he was 17 for an unfaithful American girl and had ended up growing so attached to the more-accurately named “Land of Cold Showers, Truck Drivers, and Hot Opinions” that he decided to settle down. “How about having a diner comedy? Two people could sit down to dinner and a waitress comes along, and—”

“Ah sitting down and eating, the true national Olympic sport of America,” my uncle sniggered. Not that his wry commentary helped. He was half- asleep…usually the way I liked him. However, tonight the less sleepy remarks, the better. I really needed all the help I could get.

“Real talk: you’re not helping!” I snapped.

He snorted and shook his head as he drowsily poked me on the nose. “Real talk: you need my help, so you might want to let me think before you close the window of opportunity of getting an A.”

I spun around in my wheeled chair for five minutes, sulking at the truth of it all, taking my anger out on a poor stick of Extra watermelon gum, which was a twisted, tattered mess of sugar beneath my ferocious teeth.

My ego was bruised, only this time, the bandage wasn’t coming. A pudgy, eccentric, satirical-humoresque 48-year-old with an addiction to sleepy Jo Jones jazz had delivered me a cold hard serving of the truth. And it hurt to know that I wasn’t as creative as I thought I was.

Having said that, I was determined to prove to him that I’d do good, even though I was officially on my own.
2:20 a.m. Nothing. The cursor invited me to type something.
2:30 a.m. “Type something, Isabella, so I can finally go to sleep,” my uncle whined. He hated going to sleep before me. I knew it was a parental thing.
3:00 a..m. My uncle suggested typing the alphabet. “It’s a start, right?” he pleaded.
In response, so he would stop bothering me, I turned on some rap music. The slow monotonous drone of a rapper combined with the rattling beats of rap music instantly knocked my Old Man out.
4 a.m., 5 a.m., 6 a.m. Time to get ready for another long, exhausting day of college. I sighed. Guess I’ll have to come up with a transparent excuse for my disapproving professor.

He offhandedly typed a paragraph on the computer— from what I could tell, it was a nonfiction dissertation about the fluctuation in murdered crows in October in recent years. Given that Halloween was creeping upon my fellow spooked-out Chicagoans, it was a great time to post such a morbid article.

I laughed. People are always so much more superficial and superstitious than they say they are. Call me cynical, but I’ve seen a bit too much in my short life. More than mortal eyes should see.

I hummed along to some Isabel Baydakrian while a Gospel pianist played a brisk, energetic humoresque. Good music to listen to at 7 a.m. on a Tuesday.

I disdainfully chewed my toast and watched a guy stumble over a jock’s chair. Papers, essays, bibliographies…they all splayed out of his backpack, like milk out of a carton in a slow-motion Cinnamon Toast Crunch commercial.

Suddenly, I rapped my pencil on the table. The crisp sound of the wood slamming against linen-covered wood made me smile.

This morning, my comedy sketch was due. And I had waited till the last minute to submit it. I didn’t have the details yet—which was OK, since the professor extended the due date until tomorrow. What a lucky duck I am. But it started with the classic unlaced shoes, and the rap music that the uncle snores to, and the friend who belches and wheezes simultaneously, an
eccentric fall on your face slapstick humor, and the corny puns scattered all over the gigantic transcript like scrambled eggs on a plate. And it ended with the answer to: What is a joke?

I called it Project Joke.

The following day, I smiled and handed in my paper.