‘Guy Walks into a Bar’ by Simon Rich

And I love this one in a very different way. It makes me laugh out loud. Before I read it, I carried exactly this story in the back of my mind – something that riffs on the fact that jokes are essentially stories. It works brilliantly – at least for someone with a mind as puerile as mine – by balancing the shift between two modes. You have an out and out gag-based structure, with a series of punchlines, that are then undercut by deadpan seriousness about their implications. 

First published in The New Yorker, 2013, and available to subscribers to read online here. Collected in Spoiled Brats, Serpent’s Tail, 2014

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