PADRECHISTE VALLEY, CALIFORNIA — 43 year old Chuck Charleston likes to tell jokes to keep his family from letting life get too serious. Chuck’s father wasn’t much of a cut-up himself, but could be known to make a smartass remark every now and then, Chuck himself really loves to cut up, and over the years his wife and kids have come to expect a “classic one liner or pun” from him in most situations. The only problem, Chuck says, is that lately he’s been able to tell that his loved ones are growing cold to his act.
“When my kids were littler, they used to laugh at literally everything I did or said,” Chuck told us. “I would pull a funny face, or make a word rhyme with another word and they would fall on the floor laughing. Hell, for a solid four years after my first two kids were born, my best bit was just inserting a random fart noise into conversations, and they would be in stitches. As they’ve gotten older, I’ve had to elevate my game though, and start working up actual jokes, with punchlines and everything.”
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Lately, Chuck says that his jokes haven’t been landing well at all lately. He’s not sure if his material’s “gotten stale,” if his kids’ comedic tastes have sharpened, or if he’s just “losing the touch.” Whatever the reason, though, he says he has to work harder than he ever has before to make his family laugh. In fact, there are signs that his fatherly comedic career could be careening into a ditch.
“The other night I walked the room! I was doing the classic, ‘Hi Hungry, I’m Dad’ bit, but I changed it up because my daughter said she was thirsty,” Chuck said. “But by the time I said, ‘Hi I’m Really Thirsty,’ she, my wife, and my son all groaned and left the room! I didn’t even get a chance to pay it off! The other day, my son started heckling me when I used my classic ‘That was my name in high school’ routine.”
The routine involves Chuck taking the last thing someone said, usually a two word phrase or something of the like, and telling everyone in earshot that was was nickname in high school.
“My son tells my wife that he really like crispy shrimp tacos when she makes them for dinner,” Chuck said, “and I started telling him that was my nickname, and the little bastard sarcastically claps before I finish, fake laughs in a really confrontational and frankly heckling manner, and says at the top of his lungs, ‘OH HA HA DAD I’VE NEVER FUCKING HEARD THAT ONE BEFORE! HAR HAR FUCKING HAR!’ Nine year olds are harsh comedy critics, let me tell you.”
The thing is, Chuck said, he knows his material has been flagging of late. He knows what it feels like to kill, and to die, and he’s been doing a lot more of the latter these days. However, he says that he’d love to hit up some open mics in town to woodshed some new jokes, but he’s only got so much time between working two jobs and all his other fatherly duties.
“I’d probably have a tight five, or even a solid ten by now,” Chuck insisted, “if I wasn’t so exhausted all the time from working so many shifts just to keep them all fed and clothed. I feel like telling them if they don’t like my jokes, they’re welcome to write their own, but I know getting hostile with them won’t make things better, and it will just embolden them to heckle me even worse. I hate it, they tell me to quit telling dad jokes, but even if I found the time to work the mics and develop my stuff, I’m their dad, so it’ll always be dad jokes.”
Chuck is starting to wonder if his kids and wife even like him anymore.
“I mean, they hate my jokes and I never hear much in the way of a thank you for working two fucking jobs for their survival,” Chuck said. “Fuckin’ ingrates. I love ’em. But they’re fuckin’ ingrates. And there’s nothing GREAT about living with INGRATES…ah fuck it, that’s my time.”
Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook, Spotify, and Instagram, but not Twitter because Twitter is a cesspool.