Gary Brown: Have you heard the one about National Humor Month?

Gary Brown

April is National Humor Month. So before May arrives, I should tell you the joke about the three-legged chicken.

I’ve been telling this joke for years, and, unfortunately for you, it is a basic truth in life that you cannot stop me from telling the joke if I really want to tell the joke. Even if I ask you — “Have I told you the one about the three-legged chicken?” — I’m still probably going to tell it.

Humor Month only dignifies what otherwise might make you roll your eyes and check your watch.

How it goes

An old man and his wife were driving slowly down the road.

When I told this joke to my dad a few years ago, I added, “You know, Dad, he was driving like you do.” I was just personalizing the joke in order to generate some enthusiasm for it.

“Yeah, yeah, OK,” he said, waving his hand at me. “Just get on with the joke.”

So, suddenly, something rushes past the man and his wife on the road. It runs — almost in a blur — down the road. It gets to a side road and turns quickly, to the right, speeds down that road to the driveway of a farm, then runs through the entrance into a barn.

“Did you see that?” the man asks his wife. “We’ve got to go see what that was.”

So the couple drives to the farm, and as their car pulls in the driveway they see the farmer walking from his house toward the barn. They stop him.

I usually lengthen this part out a lot with repetitiveness and exaggeration, but since we’ve got only a little bit of National Humor Month left, I’ll get right to the point.

“Sir, we couldn’t help but notice the animal that just ran so fast into your barn,” said the man. “What was that?

And the farmer slowly answered, “That was a three-legged chicken.”

Telling my dad

Now, when I was telling my dad this part of the joke, late one night as we were having a midnight snack and watching “The Tonight Show” on television, I had the farmer talking in a matter-of-fact voice.

“Well,” the farmer said. “My wife and I like chicken. And when we eat chicken, I like two drumsticks and my wife only wants one. A three-legged chicken is perfect for us.”

“That’s a brilliant idea,” said the man in the car.

We’ve gotten to the point in the joke when I need to bring in Buddy Hackett. You see, when I told this joke to my dad, it was here that I began hearing Buddy Hackett telling Johnny Carson the three-legged chicken joke on “The Tonight Show.” And he was almost in the exact same place.

I know it sounds uncanny, but later I decided that we both probably told the joke so often that it had to happen, sooner or later.

“You might as well just listen to him,” I told my dad.

You could say, when it comes to telling a good joke, I knew I couldn’t Hackett. ... Sorry.

“Tell me,” the man asked the farmer, “how do these three-legged chickens taste?”

My dad laughed heartily at Buddy Hackett’s punch line. I sort of wished it had been mine.

“ ‘Dunno,’ the farmer said. ‘Haven’t caught one yet...’ ”

Happy Humor Month from me and Hackett.

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