I love this joke that I wrote years ago:
I had a dream last night I was getting attacked by a bear.
Don’t worry. I’m fine.
…but nobody else seems to.
I’ve tried using it in my act at various times since writing it in 2009. It almost universally fails to get a laugh, but in my heart I love it. To me, it’s a great joke. That’s why against the advice of some of my comedian friends and my own judgement I included it on my album (Yes, Really).
As you can hear in that track, there’s a fair bit of structuring to get that joke to work in front of an audience. I’m not just plainly stating it as written. The fact that people don’t like or don’t understand it is what pays off later in the bit.
Also included in the track is an unplanned and quickly abandoned defense of the joke on my part.
The idea that any reasonable person would hear me say, “I had a dream last night I was getting attacked by a bear,” and then be so concerned for my well being that they would need to be told that I’m fine, even though it was a dream, and even though they can clearly see that I have not been mauled by this dream bear — and then, also knowing it was only a dream and that I have not been mauled, I offer that reassurance — that’s what’s funny about that joke to me.
Of course I’m fine. It’s just a dream bear. It’s ridiculous to think otherwise.
On the album I say that one day this joke will have its day, and I think that’s today.
I get royalties for the album, and along with those royalties comes a statement breaking down what tracks are played and how much they earned.
I won’t be so crass as to give an amount, but the number one earning track from my album? You’d better believe it’s the one with the bear joke.
This is a capitalist society and numbers don’t lie. Not only is the bear joke a good joke, financially speaking, it is my best joke.
The whole point of this post is to defend that joke, but I guess if we wanted to take a more universal lesson than “That joke is hilarious and you’re all wrong for not loving it as much as I do” it would be that sometimes it pays off to really believe in something you’ve created. Even if hundreds of people over the course of several years demonstrate to you that they do not like it. Dig your heels in. Draw a line in the sand, and figure out how to force people to like it in spite of themselves.
Wrestle that dream bear. You’ll be fine.