Lots of people have party tricks. You gotta, if you’re a vaguely self-conscious person forced into a social situation with a variety of people you’ve never met. You have to have something, some last ditch effort when conversation fails, some stunt that says, “Hey, maybe I can’t make small talk, but check out this backflip.”
My party trick used to be sticking my entire fist in my mouth. This was possible due to abnormally small hands and an abnormally big mouth, but I no longer have the skill. For awhile, my party trick was hiding in the corner, nursing a bottle of Smirnoff’s and praying that I wouldn’t have to talk to anybody I didn’t know, but that got old pretty fast.
But then, then I discovered the ultimate trick. The best ice breaker. It is less a party trick and more of a party ruse. It is fantastic, and I am going to share it with you today.
I call it The Five Minute Joke.
I first heard the five minute joke in California Adventure, the slightly smaller subsidiary of Disney Land. The band had gone our senior year to participate in Magic Music Days, and we were significantly less enthusiastic about all the musical learning than we were about spending several unsupervised hours in the park every day. On this particular day, my cluster of high school friends and I had split into groups. Some were getting on the roller-coaster for the fifth time, some wanted to hit up every ride in Fantasy Land. I’m pretty sure a couple were headed over to catch some supremely boring stage show where the Little Mermaid meets Princess Jasmine and they have a water fight or something like that. My friend Kristi and I were hungry, so we got little baskets of fish and chips and sat with our legs dangling over the dock, staring at the water and enjoying the sun. After awhile, we started talking about jokes.
“My dad told me this one,” Kristi said, “And it’s awful. He loved it, but it was really like the worst joke.”
“Tell me,” I demanded, and she did. As she reache the punchline, my eyes widened and a chorus of angels descended from Splash Mountain and played the Small World After All theme on glittering trumpets. I wiped away a tear.
“That was the greatest thing I’ve ever heard,” I said, “and I’m going to tell it to everybody.”
Are you all ready? Memorize this, pull it out at the next party, and your friends will all groan like an old lady with a stomach flu. You’ll feel like the victor, I promise.
Here we go:
So there are three clams. Bob Clam, Fred Clam, and Sam Clam, and they’re all great clam buddies. They met in clam preschool and stayed friends all through clam grade school and clam high school (where Sam Clam had numerous girlfriends and Fred Clam failed chemistry that one time) and finally went to Clam College. It was a pretty good school and they had some of their best days there, playing clam frisbee and going to some clam parties and staying up late, discussing clam politics with the cheapest cans of clam beer clogging their fridge. It was around this time that Bob Clam met a nice clam girl and decided to get married. Fred Clam and Sam Clam were ecstatic, and so they threw him a big wild bachelor party. They even had some clam hookers there, which Bob Clam did not take advantage of, being the upstanding clam that he was, but Sam Clam eagerly partook. Driving back to their clam apartment that night, though, their car struck a lamp post and all three clams were sadly killed. All three clams ascended to heaven, where Saint Peter met them at the pearly gates. He smiled serenely at Bob Clam and Fred Clam as he bestowed upon them their wings and their harp, that item of utmost importance, and ushered them into heaven. As Sam Clam stepped forward, though, Saint Peter put on his bitch face.
“Sam Clam,” he said, “did you or did you not totally do it with that hooker?”
“I uh, totally did,” Sam Clam said, and with that, a hole opened up in the clouds and poor Sam Clam was dragged down to Hell. Bob Clam and Fred Clam watched sadly, but in their hearts, they knew that Sam Clam didn’t belong in heaven. They began their afterlives happily. They hung out with all their dead heroes, played their harps, and learned great and wonderful things from God in those beautiful, never ending sunny days. After awhile, though, a needle of regret worked into both of them. They conferred, and agreed that they had to see their friend, Sam Clam, one more time. It would be risky. Leaving Heaven was a terrible sin, so they snuck out the back way, went down the Great Stairs, nervously hiding their wings and harps in their robes, until they finally reached the door to Hell.
Upon opening it, though, they were surprised.
Hell was a gigantic party! All of the worst people were there, drinking, dancing, making out, fighting, all the good stuff. In the middle of it all, Sam Clam was drunkenly belting out “Don’t Stop Believin'” on Hell’s mighty karaoke machine. Bob Clam and Fred Clam were overjoyed to see their friend, and Sam Clam couldn’t believe his good fortune, that his two best clam buddies had come to see him one last time. They danced that night for hours and hours, comparing stories of Heaven and Hell, playing riffs on their harps, and laughing with each other until they were all exhausted. Finally, though, the time came, and Bob Clam and Fred Clam had to hug their pal one last time and sneak back up into Heaven.
Heaven was quiet when they got there, sneaking through the Pearly Gates. They gazed around to see if anyone saw them, when suddenly Saint Peter appeared before them.
“Bob Clam and Fred Clam!” he boomed. “Have you been visiting Hell?”
“N-no!” stuttered Bob Clam. “Never!”
“Is that so?” Saint Peter demanded. “Well, if that’s true, Fred Clam, then where is your harp?”
Fred Clam nervously patted his robes, but his harp wasn’t there. Blushing, he hung his head and admitted it:
“Saint Peter,” he said, “I’m sorry. I left my harp in Sam Clam’s Disco.”
At this point, you, as the Joke Teller, must stare expectantly at your audience with a large grin on your face. Repeat the punch line. “I left my harp in Sam Clam’s Disco.” Give your audience a thumbs up.
A groan will ensue. Not just a ‘bad joke’ groan, but an ‘oh my god, that joke made my spleen rupture’ groan. Some will be angry. Some will stare blankly, like a child that was promised ice cream and then suddenly deprived. And you, you, my friend, will have just owned that party.
It is the ultimate party trick. You will have stolen five minutes of their life, and they will never, ever get it back.
After the completion of the joke, laugh uproariously at your own cleverness and announce you’re getting another drink, would anyone else like one? Likely you’ll be hit in the face with a pillow or a broken beer bottle, but when you leave that party, you’ll be remembered, and whenever you speak to anyone there again, you will have something to talk about.
The Ultimate Party Trick.
My gift to you.