Johnny's mother found her son, late in the evening, outside the house, searching the sidewalk under a street lamp. "What are you looking for?" she asked him.
"I lost a dime here, so I'm looking for it."
"Well," she said, "How did you lose it, Johnny?"
"I dropped it about twenty feet that way."
"Then why are you looking here?"
Johnny replied proudly, "Because the light's better over here."
I gave Johnny a call and asked about it. I had to know what kind of screwed-up thinking could lead to that kind of decision! Here's a brief interview transcript:
TED: So, did you ever find the dime you lost?
JOHNNY: No, but I didn't expect to find it. I forgot about it soon after; it's just a dime, you know.
TED: So why even look?
JOHNNY: I couldn't let go of it until I'd at least tried. And it's a lot more pleasant to look in a well-lit place. If the search is pointless, might as well search in comfort.
TED: That makes no sense at all.
JOHNNY: Well, I was a kid. It made sense then. I still get a lot of criticism for that. My mother, too - she also gets complaints for ending a sentence with a preposition. Honestly, though, I wish people would pay more attention to my more recent projects.
TED: What are you working on?
JOHNNY: Well, I'm in my thirties now. A little too old to be in a boy-finds-dime joke. These days, Marsha and I are characters in a joke about a couple, a golf game, and a genie. I'm really happy with how it's turning out.
TED: What's it like to be a character in a joke, if I may ask?
JOHNNY: Well, I've had a lot of luck with it so far. I mean, sometimes it's dangerous work - I'm sure you read about my friend Juan, who died during a drunk Superman joke. A lot of the racier jokes can be exciting, but, well, I'm happily married now, so those days are past. As I mentioned, these days we're mostly doing golfing jokes.
TED: A lot of people who read my LiveJournal are non-fictional characters. If you had to pick one thing, what's the biggest difference in the daily life, between a real person and a character in a joke?
JOHNNY: Causality. We interact with the world on an alien level of causality! I mean, when you do or say something, it'll definitely come back to you. Not so for us. When the joke's over, there's no further consequences. It's a series of isolated incidences - events can appear and disappear freely.
TED: Wait. What about Juan? You just said he died! Doesn't that contradict what you just said?
Now I wish I could somehow be a fictional comedic character.
Any fictional characters out there? How'd you get your start?