There was a huge gathering at the local hall. It seemed the whole town was there. A commercial traveller staying at the pub on the next corner wandered in to see what was happening. A man stepped on stage and said, “Seventy two…” The audience erupted in spontaneous laughter. When they quietened, he called out, “Thirty nine…,” and again everyone laughed out loud.
The first man bowed and departed. A second man came on stage and said, “Fifteen…” This generated the best response of the night. A few moments later, he called out, “Eighty four…,” and the audience went berserk.
The traveller couldn’t understand what was going on so he looked around until he saw a bloke wearing the regalia of the local mayor. The traveller approached him and asked what it was all about.
“It’s a funny thing about jokes,” came the reply. “There are only a certain number of jokes and then a number of variations. Every joke and every variation is given a number. The whole town knows them all. When we have a comedy festival, the contestants step on stage and say the number. It’s as easy as that”.
The commercial traveller said, “That’s brilliant. Do you reckon I can have a go?” The mayor said yes and, a few minutes later, the traveller stepped on stage.
“Twenty one,” he called. Total silence. How embarrassing! Trying again, he called, “Ninety nine!” This brought a few murmurs of discontent but, determined to get at least a chuckle, he tried once more, “Forty five…”
The audience was angry. Booed and hissed, he beat a hasty retreat. Finding the mayor, he asked what was wrong. “What went wrong? Did I pick the only stories they don’t like?”
“No, no, nothing wrong with those stories, mate. It was just crap delivery!”