If a Comic Says Stop Me If Youve Heard This One Should I

Absolutely not. A pro never stops another person from reciting. Here's why:

1. The other person has the spotlight, and you don't want to kill his laugh.

2. You might hear an even better way to tell the joke than the way you already know.

3. It may have a familiar opening, but it might have a new punch line.

Many jokes begin with a stereotyped setup. Here's a classic story about Hawaii:

A married couple, on their first vacation flight to Hawaii, argue about the island's pronunciation. As soon as they land, they walk into a delicatessen across the street from the airport and the man asks the waiter, "How do you pronounce this place? Ha-why-ee? Ha-vie-ee? Or Ha-vie-ee-ee?" The waiter answers, "Ha-vie-ee!" "Thank you," says the couple. And the waiter replied, "You're vel-come!"

If you had stopped in the middle of the first one, because you heard it before, you'd never learn that there's a second joke:

Same opening, they walk into delicatessen, but this time the man asks the waiter: "I want to know how you pronounce this place, so please say it very slowly." The waiter looks him in the eye and says, "Ir-ving and Mil-ton's Del-i-ca-tess-en."

A comedian rarely laughs out loud at a colleague's humor, but will compliment the friend, "That's a good bit, Joel." A pro watches the style of other pros. They listen to content, delivery, and timing. "I'm so busy thinking, who has time to laugh?" Stepping on an associate's lines is amateur night. It also may teach you how hard a punch you can take.

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