Humour occurs when a surprise is recognised as harmless. This is why a predictable punchline kills a joke. This is why a joke you’ve heard before is no longer funny.1 More interestingly, this allows for the creation of meta jokes, like this one: an Irishman walks past a bar. This is a very good joke. First there is the absence of the expected punchline, but then there is the realisation that there really was a punchline. I swear I’m going somewhere with this gelotological talk. You see, today we talk about a joke.
I’ll try to set up the joke: two blokes – corresponding to the two pants above – are sitting in a bar.
Bloke 1: It’s your turn.
Bloke 2: Wait, are we playing this?
Well, the surprise is certainly there and there is not really any harm in sight. For me, that is, but I am a bit worried about Bloke 2.
The problem is that, perhaps after a brief chuckle, I keep thinking, pondering, wondering, what the hell would have to happen to make someone forget he’s playing a game of chess. The only explanation I have been able to come up with is that he must be suffering from some horrible type of memory loss.
That is also the only explanation for the above position.2 Do these people even know that there is more to chess than pawns? The most likely sequence arriving in the above position seems to be 1. b4 e5 2. a3 b6 3. e3 b5 4. Bxb5 c6 5. Bf1 but if that’s the most likely sequence, something’s definitely fishy.
But the situation is more grim than even this would suggest. You see, Bloke 1 and Bloke 2 are supposed to be in some kind of bar, but instead of a proper coaster Bloke 1 got a lousy piece of paper?! What’s up with that?
Realism: 2/5 The position is not illegal, but bringing a mutant orangutang in to solve a case is a bit much.3
Probable winner: White. He knows whose move it is. That seems like a definite advantage.
1. [You might still laugh, but that’s because it reminds you of the first time you’ve heard it. So I suspect at least.]↩
2 [Which came as a harmless surprise to this editor.]↩
3 [Although, of course, it’s been done.]↩