After a successful first try, I was confident and decided to try the banana joke on a girl. I wanted to refute Andrew’s theory: he had predicted that only men would laugh at my joke because they “want my body” (his words, not mine), while women would at best smile.
2. Second victim: Swiss colleague from the school, let’s call her Heidi
I meet Heidi once a week to help her improve her French while she helps me with my German- it’s called a tandem. Our exchanges are quite serious usually, probably because we are both Swiss, but sometimes we laugh a little bit. On that day, she must have thought I was a bit weird because the whole time she was talking in French, I was silently giggling about the joke project. When my turn came to talk in German, I immediately said:
“Ich habe ein Witz!” with a big grin.
“einen Witz”, she corrected me. I went on, trying to appear confident: “was ist gelb und …er, how do you say invisible in German?”
“Unsichtbar” she said, starting to look impatient.
“Ah, thanks, so was ist gelb… er, gelb means yellow, right?” She nodded, looking even more impatient. Another key to be funny, I realised, was self-confidence, which I bitterly lacked at that moment. I took a deep breath and tried again:
“So… was ist gelb und unsichtbar?”
She thought for a moment and said: “If it is yellow, it cannot be invisible!”
“Huh?” I thought. She had a point, but since when are you supposed to outsmart the person who is telling you a joke?
“You are right”, I said, “but try to think of something.” I just wanted her to ask for the damn answer! Eventually, she got tired of thinking and gave her tongue to the cat. (It is the literal translation of the French expression donner sa langue au chat; it means to ask the solution to an enigma.) Now, In a desperate attempt to make you my readers laugh, here is a visual aid to help you picture how I ended the joke:
So, making that exact mimic, I told her “Diese Banane!” (enthusiastically).
“Diese WAS?” she asked.
“DIESE BANANE” I reapeted, pretending to hold a banana.
“Oooh, a Ba-Na-Na” she said, like she was talking to a retarded person, laughing nervously. Can you imagine how funny and confident about my ability to speak German I felt at that moment? On a scale from 1 to 10, I was probably at minus 5.