a man walks into a bar

Writing Prompt - Your generic character "walks into a bar", but instead of getting to a punchline, the story transitions to a depressing and insightful story.


What a joke.

. . .

Knock knock. Who's there?

An interruption. Not an interrupting cow, but it still breaks my concentration, then, it breaks my heart. I'm trying to come up with my next standup routine -- got to keep the material fresh, even if my clothes aren't -- when a toy soldier rings my doorbell. "Sir, is Mrs. Hall here?" Oh my god. Oh my god is Tommy okay? "Are you Thomas Hall's brother, or..." Oh my god, is he MOO.

Why'd the chicken cross the road?

Of course I'm chicken. Too chicken to stand up to my boss for a better standup gig. Too chicken to talk Tommy out of risking his life fighting for a country that hates us. Too chicken to see Tommy one last time -- which I couldn't, it's a closed casket -- before I can accept he's crossed to the other side.

A man walks into a bar.

It's the same bar where I first met him, and I order the same drink we both shared. It's as bitter as I am. I've been screaming all of last night, tearing up script after script, it's all shit. I'm shit. And now my voice is hoarse, and the barkeep asks me why the long face.

. . .

What, a joke?

Yeah. Despite all this, I'm still down to hear a good joke, maybe I'll even tell you one or two, too. I was bullied as a kid. And as an adult. And I've always used humour to cope. I never thought of the logical implication of that -- the punchline -- is that the more I have to cope with, the better my humour is.

My standup routine is a huge hit. It's sharp! It's edgy! Everyone's heard my script, everyone's heard my name. It's a bigger blast than the one that killed Tommy. And at the end of each act, in the middle of each standing ovation, I relish in my audience's laughter.

Maybe if I cry hard enough, it'll look like I'm laughing, too.


- written in 30 minutes
- rough and raw, although I deliberately 
avoided explicitly saying that Tommy was
the narrator's lover.