The scrap pile: Working too hard

Welcome to ‘the scrap pile’. This is a new weekly blog format where I go through some of my old jokes in my notepad that either didn’t work on stage or that I haven’t had the confidence to get up on stage and do. Each week I’ll dissect the joke and try and work out why it didn’t work then try and figure out if there’s anything worth saving and then try and rewrite it. I’ll then perform the ‘new’ joke at a new material night and update this post with the results and add the video to my facebook page.

The joke

My mate told me he got fired from his last job for working too hard and at first I thought that was unfair, but on reflection, I can see how diners would be put off by his erection.

The reaction

This is one of those jokes where it doesn’t even get a sympathy laugh, the audience just looks at me bemused. I’ve done it a few times on stage and it’s never really gotten anything – I even tried making it dirtier;

My mate told me he got fired from his last job for working too hard but in fairness, I can see how it would be inappropriate to work with an erection (pause) at a nursery.

As you may rightly anticipate, this made the reaction so much worse. The joke definitely got more of a reaction in this guise but still not much laughter.

The problem

On the face of this joke, it’s exactly my modus operandi. It’s a short little joke that has a double meaning and a dirty punchline. It even follows my favorite format of revealing the joke before the punchline. If this is a technique and not just bad writing (which is open for debate), then it’s one that I rely on too often.

I like the brazen nature of giving the game away in the set up, and then still having the audacity to do the punch-line and in my head, there’s something quite inherently funny about a comic acting as though the punch line was still a surprise despite the setup containing something like the word ‘fingering’.

When it works, it works, but sadly a lot of my jokes follow this formula and it becomes a little predictable and tiresome for an audience so with a lot of my jokes that aren’t working, my first port of call is to try and make the punchline more obscured.

That leads to another problem with this joke. The ‘funny’ is the phrase ‘too hard’ – saying after that line that he was putting people off with his erection is over-egging the pudding.

And lastly, it’s quite wordy. Considering it’s quite a low brow, obvious joke, I’ve put quite a bit of fat around the set up and what is currently the punchline.

So, the problems as I see them are;

  1. The punchline is given away in the feed line
  2. The punchline as it stands isn’t the funny part of the joke
  3. And finally, it needs trimming down to make it punchier

Is it worth saving?

This is never going to be a huge laugh, applause break kind of joke but it’s definitely my style and could be a fine little stop gap on the way to something bigger. I think it’s save-able and would be a line that can be dropped in and out of a set easily.


My mate told me he got fired from his last job for working too hard and at first I thought that was unfair, but on reflection, I can see how diners would be put off by his erection.

Firstly, my mate is too distant so I’m going to change it to a family member, maybe cousin. Second, the job that he is fired from and the reason he is fired have no relation so I’m going to change that to strip-o-gram.

Then I’m going to make the punch-line ‘working too hard’ and I’m going to change the feed line so that it sets this up better without giving the game away.

So, the new joke I’m going to try is;

My cousin was a real work-a-holic but sadly he got sacked from his job as a strip-o-gram. He was working too hard.

So, that’s the new joke. I’m going to get up on stage and give it a try and I’ll update this blog post with a video or at least a report of how it was received. If you’re interested in finding out how it went, subscribe to my newsletter to be the first to know when this post is updated! And let me know how you would have written the joke or what you would have changed


I want to hear more

3 thoughts on “The scrap pile: Working too hard

  1. It made me chuckle in its original form but I suppose that says more about my sense of humour than the joke!

    The reformat made me laugh too. It does work better not revealing โ€˜hardโ€™ until the end.

    Another possibility but not as good as yours:

    โ€œSo, I finally got my big break in the film industry. I had to turn it down though. Being a fluffer just seemed too much like hard work.โ€

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