I have been accused of some of the worst puns in history. These are characterized by a a conversation that is randomly interrupted minutes later by an outburst of laughter from me, followed by the joke, followed by an awkward silence from everybody except me. Sometimes I’m faster and the joke comes out almost immediately. Sometimes people laugh. It varies. But it’s always a really corny pun.
Once I was in a meeting at work and we were discussing changes to a database. After a few minutes of discussion with no progress, I said “I think we should table this” after which I burst into laughter. Of course, only people who are familiar with databases and Robert’s rules of order would get the joke, so it was pretty specific. Nonetheless, I couldn’t contain myself and for the rest of the meeting bit my tongue and refrained from looking at anyone. THAT is a Bobism; a joke or pun that requires some very specific knowledge of two completely separate fields. In this case, it was database structure (databases are made of tables of data) and Robert’s rules (a set of rules that specify how meetings proceed. An issue that is tabled means discussion ceases and the issue is resumed later). It is a good double entendre in the right crowd.
On vacation in Chicago I had another Bobism. Adam and I were talking about places to eat when Adam said we should eat at Jim’s because it was an institution among Chicago natives. I replied that I really like to do the local things and experience the native culture and not the touristy stuff. Then I said, “I guess you could say I’m committed to institutions.” Naturally I burst out laughing and sat in disappointment as Adam groaned and told me how only a very small audience would appreciate that joke, while secretly wishing he had come up with the pun himself (I can only imagine).
Those who have been around me have no doubt experienced a Bobism, and while they pretend to be embarrassed for me, I know they wish they had thought of it first. Anyway, I plan to use my “committed to institutions” line again in the future, and I hope by then the audience will be able to appreciate the Bobism.