what if you forget details? what if you skip something? what if you say the punchline wrong? what if everyone already knows it? what if they don't get it? what if there's that horribly awkward silence...and then a weak laugh which makes you feel even dumber?
my friend wrote a book called "101 Ways to Kill a Joke". she actually never let me see it cuz i'm nasty enough without her help. but i know one of her favorites is to say "i don't get it" even if she does. that way the joke-teller is forced to explain the joke, which, obviously, kills it.
my favorite is when someone will call a joke by its punchline. like, "hey did you hear that joke about the complimentary peanuts?" and then when you say you haven't, there's no point in telling it, because you already know the punchline.
and now i'll leave off with a joke:
a hit man named Artie was once hired by a guy to strangle his wife. being that he knew that everyone was up on hard times, he agreed to do it for a buck. so he followed the guys wife to the store when she went to do her grocery shopping, and strangled her. unfortunately, two people saw him do it, so he had to strangle them too. the next day the paper headline read:
Artie Chokes Three for a Dollar A&P