When I was in 5th grade my teacher called on me to present my book report. My anxious response was “I’m absent.”
While, I intended that response to be a joke, I was surprised by how well it was received by the class. My teacher, smiled as she explained the meaning of the world witty, and added “Scott is a witty young man.”
A few nanoseconds later my short-lived nickname became “Witty Smitty” which was chanted for a few recesses when it was my turn at the plate during our daily kickball game.
Throughout my life, people have occasionally labeled me as quick-witted. Often their conclusion is based on a mere two or three data points after I’ve made some jokes in their presence that landed (with them, anyway).
They tend to ignore the weakass-joke attempts that went over like a lead balloon (not to be confused with a Led Zeppelin).
Also, they are most likely unaware how long I’ve been mulling over some of these witticisms.
I have a confession to make, many of my “quick” responses have been days, months, sometimes years in the making. As Rod Stewart once sang many of my “ad-libbed lines were well-rehearsed.”
Here is an example.
When I was about 8, a joke in a Laurel and Hardy movie made an impression on me.
Over the years, I imagined how I might drop that punchline in real life. Though without the proper setup, it seemed pointless.
Eventually, I got the chance.
When I was 24, I came to a stop at a red light, the driver behind me plowed into the back of my car.
I went to use the payphone at a nearby convenience store and a man who glanced at my crumbled Toyota said “Have an accident?”
“No, thanks, I just had one,” was the only appropriate response.
The man chuckled, and said, “Wow, that was a quick comeback.”
I felt obligated to explain that I’d been waiting 16 years to drop that punchline, and that it was was from a 50-year-old movie. However, I was just in a car wreck and a bit shaken, and needed to cal the police, so I just left it at “Thanks.”
While I couldn’t find the “Have an accident?” clip here is another short sip of Laurel and Hardy: