The Five Degrees of Jokes: 1st Degree

First degree jokes are puns, wordplay, and overly literal use of words. I breathe these kind of jokes because they are mostly innocent, playful, or silly, and I have raised two children to their teen years, and first degree jokes were fairly safe.
If my daughter asks me how my day went, I might reply, “fine.” A moment later, I am likely to add: “i got a fine for double-parking, so it sucked.” Get it? Fine and fine. My daughter doesn’t laugh either.
I knew a young lady who used double entendre in almost every conversation, and those rely heavily on puns, so you may think they are first degree jokes but, in fact, because they are mixing profanity with normal conversation they are third degree jokes.
I have become so constant in my use of puns and overly literal use of words that they creep into my writing all the time, and I have to make a specific effort to look for them. I hardly notice them, and that’s dangerous. They sren’t all that funny, don’t really set much of anything interesting up, and only encourage more of the same.
Funny jokes, like a fine delicious meal, are difficult to create. Starting out with wonderful ingredients are the best strategy for success, and puns are the white potatoes of the joke world. They take up space on the plate, but by themselves they are a lousy meal. But if served with a thick cut of juicy meat and smothered in gravy, they’ll lick the plate clean and ask for more, even the potatoes.