The audience in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., was limp from laughing when David Feherty announced, "And now for some jokes." Feherty's "Off Tour" one-man show had thus far been a cacophony of blue one-liners and risqué anecdotes. Now he was venturing into dangerous territory: the standard golf joke. The Edsel of humor. The blunt instrument of grillroom bores.
Someone in the darkened hall muttered, "Oh, no."
Feherty ignored him. He told a joke involving sex with a horse, then one about a drunk being passed on the street by two nuns. Then, taking the audience by the hand, he made a case for reviving the golf joke, of restoring the majesty it held in the pre-digital age.
"Growing up in Ireland, telling jokes was a big part of life," he said. "Still is. I grew up in an atmosphere where we made fun of people all the time, sometimes in a dark way. All humor is about perspective, about how important one thing is in relation to another. The way people react to jokes tells you a lot about who they are. When I liken Colin Montgomerie to Mrs. Doubtfire and he's not amused, it shows he doesn't get it."
Feherty believes most golf jokes are told too slowly. A long-form joke must be told quickly enough to fit between sips of whiskey. If someone takes a sip mid-joke, either the joke is too long, or the whiskey is very good. Feherty offered an example of a long-form joke told snappily.
"My father is playing a weekend round with his doctor. He tells him, 'I've been having trouble sleeping. Can you prescribe me a pill?' The doctor says it isn't necessary. 'When you go to bed, simply play a round of golf in your head. It's like counting sheep.' The next week they play again. The doctor asks my dad how it went. My dad answers, 'On the first hole, I hit a driver and 6-iron, then made the putt. The second hole, a par 5, I belted a 3-wood onto the apron, then chipped in for eagle. On the short par-4 third, I skied my tee shot, chunked a 9-iron onto the edge, then made the longest putt of my life. So I started 3-3-3.' The doctor says, 'Spectacular. Keep going.' My dad continues, 'On the fourth, I sliced my tee shot into the trees.' The doctor, concerned, asks, 'What happened next?' And my dad says, 'I spent the rest of the night awake looking for my ball.' "
A golf joke doesn't have to be about golf. It's enough that it be told by a golfer. Feherty then demonstrated a favorite shorty:
"Ryan and Murphy are out fishing in the boat. Ryan says, 'Hey, Murph, why is it that scuba divers fall backward when they go into the water?' And Murphy says, 'Because if they fell forward, they'd still be in the boat.' "