The Essence of Humor
When Jeremy opened his eyes, he immediately realized that something along the path of his life had short-circuited. He was in an even plain, covered in gray grass. Maybe a kilometer or two away the valley reached the foot of brown mountains, which were completely bare. The sky above them was red and spotted with white clouds. He turned around and discovered that the view is the same in all directions. A fact made a particular impression on him - the fact was that last night he had come back from work, put on his yellow pajamas, and lied down in his soft bed, but now he was wide awake and dressed in something that resembled a potato sack with holes for his arms and head.
"Hey there!" came a voice from behind, its sound slightly reminiscent of something thick bubbling in a big cauldron.
Jeremy turned around and saw a two and a half - three meter... gargoyle? Like the scary ones from gothic architecture. The one in front of him wasn't petrified, however. Its skin reminded Jeremy of the skin of the couch he owned - brown and shiny. The creature had small crooked horns and there was smoke coming out of its nostrils. A faint sulfur aroma start making its way around the place.
"Aaaah!" was Jeremy's only reply to the creature's friendly greeting.
"Relax, my man, I am here to explain shit to you, not to kill you. Actually I couldn't kill you even if I wanted to." Said the creature with a smile. (This smile didn't calm down Jeremy much, since the creature's teeth were razor sharp and quite numerous.
"Well... Thanks!" said the man, still a little bit shaken up. "Would you tell me what's going on here?"
"Toots, I won't beat around the bush. You are in Hell. I won't tell you how or when you died; you are not allowed to know this. A bit about this place; it resembles a lot the one described by that graphomaniac Dante but there's a lot more circles than nine. A person can even go to several ones at the same time, according to his sins; physics in Hell behave a bit differently.
Your biggest sin is not, hah, adultery, as your wife might have thought, but something a tad more... exotic. Actually your biggest sin was practicing your earthly profession - it is indeed hard to find a more inept comedian than yourself. You, Jeremy, through telling extremely tiresome jokes, are responsible for turning the world into a drab and grey place, devoid of laughter.
"But how could I have known that I was so bad in telling jokes? Everybody laughed at me in school!"
"Yes, even when you weren't joking. It's all here, in the files." the creature patted a leather-bound folder, which it was holding in one of its four arms. "Moving on, you are in one of the circles of Hell. Which one is it? Guess! The Bad Joke Circle, of course! Ha ha ha ha!" the thing's laughter was definitely not happy and frivolous.
"So what's going to happen to me now?" asked Jeremy.
"Look, my man, the thing is that circles are not flat; they have multiple levels. There's an elevator right there." the gargoyle pointed at a nearby elevator, which had escaped the bane of graffiti artists. "You go into that thing and starting cracking jokes. If they are good, it will rise and eventually reach the highest level. From there on, someone from Above will pick you up and you will ascend There. If they are bad however, you will start to feel the floor underneath your feet getting hotter and not before long, you will be a dear visitor of my own cauldron!" the demon finished on a high and gleeful note.
Jeremy swallowed hard, and since there was nothing else to do he stepped into the elevator. Desperation sank his heart. He wouldn't be able to think up a good joke! The gruesome fate awaiting him in the near future was too scary to tickle his humor gland into production. The ill-fated comedian sat down on the elevator's floor and lowered his eyes with an empty scared stare.
Two hours passed, and Jeremy didn't move. Suddenly, and idea popped in his brain and his eyes lit up. He poked his head outside and called:
"Hey you, what's your name? Actually, it doesn't matter! Come here, quick!"
The demon was curious what the hapless comedian could offer him and swallowing his pride, wounded by the slightly insulting lack of respect in Jeremy, somehow managed to fit his bulk into the tight space of the elevator. The smell of sulfur immediately filled the place.
Four minutes passed, through which whispers and smothered laughter could be heard.
Suddenly, the elevator shot up with incredible speed, the boom of an object gone supersonic shaking the hills.
Three years later
(of course, three years here were quite relative)
Jeremy and Vassago (that was the demon's name) were sipping bear on a beautiful blue beach. The sun had no intention of setting and the cool breeze tirelessly kept things nice and cool.
"Dude, I still can't believe it! Bring a demon to Heaven! Only a desperate man could stand in front of the Pearly Gates, holding the hand of a creature from Hell and say "Here's my joke - the demon's coming with me inside!" And, because it is a really inane paradox , to be actually let in! I nearly suffocated with laughter, but do you remember St. Peter? That guy had to maintain a respectful posture, even though he wanted to laugh out so badly. That's what I call exquisite torture!
"You know what, Vassago?" said Jeremy, while smiling and taking another sip from his beer. "You talk way too much, and the joke's not over yet..."
A loud cracking noise rattled the beach, sun and sky of Heaven...