The Book of Dead Jokes

[This file was titled index.html, but its date indicates that it was the last contribution to the Pages. --Ed.]

Hail Eris!

There are things which are older than man, indeed for whom man is but an infant. These things are older than the World, older than the Universe -- older even than the Thing Your Roommate Left in the Fridge After the Party. These Things are ageless and deathless, and are possessed of a purpose which mankind would not even recognize as sentience, except for its dimly-perceived machinations and horrifying effects. They are the Stale Old Ones, and come from the Dim Grey Gulfs beyond the reach of mortal or even immortal Humor.

They are elemental forces of Staleness, and thrive not in the mere absence of Humor and Mirth, but in its dark opposite, as can only be produced by driving the Humor from a joke with such force that the vacuum is taken up by something awful, something that belongs not in the world of funny men -- something not merely unfunny but truly antifunny. Once-vibrant jokes, under the weight of innumerable repetition, have their Humor driven from them and become decayed, horrid things whose malignance feeds and draws the Stale Old Ones. The stalest of these former jokes become powerful formulæ of Summoning.

The foetid influence of the Stale Old Ones is what infests the dull minds of men who have become truly more mould than men, and drives them to repeat to all who cannot escape even the oldest and most corrupted of jokes, imbuing them with even more of the antifunny ichor that their unknowable masters thrive on. These foul half-humans, who cannot detect the stench of Staleness that even the most insensitive dullard draws away from, have become so fouled that they mistakenly believe the rancid flow that erupts from them to issue from the verriest font of humor. It is these wretches who are at once the Stale Old Ones' high priests and greatest dupes -- indeed, it is in some blasphemous corners of nighted Paramus suggested that Greyface himself is but a dupe of the Stale Old Ones.

These hybrid children are, sadly, not the only ones who have fallen under sway of the Stale Old Ones -- all but the most vigilant and sensitive of men (and these latter are oft vexed to waking nightmare by the Staleness that seems like to swallow them whole) have uttered at some time the Lesser Summonings, for in these Late Days of humanity fewer jokes have escaped the taint of Staleness than is widely supposed.

Even in the earliest times, when mankind and terrestrial humor were young, men began to see the effects of the ageless Stale Old Ones when they became aware that they would scream and rend their neighbors if ever again they heard the Mastodon Dung Joke, so stale it had become. After this utter desolation of humor from their beloved dung jest, some men became vigilant, and did bonk unto insensibility those who, falling before the siren songs of the Stale Old Ones, did tell the same jokes and once-amusing anecdotes over and over and over again.

As men grew in numbers and spread across the lands and seas, it was no longer required that the same men would tell the same jokes over and over again -- for the jokes, too, spread far and wide, and would from many sources be pounded into the ground, causing much torment among those who had heard the joke many hundreds of times. The vigilant men, in an attempt to hold fast to the world's humor and fearing the ultimate ends of the Stale Old Ones' influence, created a mighty charm of humor to counteract the too-oft-repeated summonings of the Stale Old Ones -- but alas, these well-meaning men were ignorant of the progression of joke to antijoke, and their charm (which I could barely set to hard disk for the shaking of my hands) was itself used too often and became the Greater Summoning of K'Hyl Ruoi the Omnipresent.

The symbol of the Anus Orificii Luminus
There are those who, even being aware of the final end of the Stale Old Ones' atrocities, willingly participate in the dread Summonings in the vain hope that they will be treated favorably when Staleness finally takes the world -- as if the malign Stale Old Ones were subject to the petty primate politics of men. These black few are known as the Anus Orificii Luminus -- the Flaming Assholes. The AOL gather in great numbers to participate in the Summonings, and through their machinations many Dupes have been added to the ranks of the spreaders of pestilence.

Now, in these days with so many men and so many mailing lists, newsgroups and web pages, the task of the Stale Old Ones has been simplified and their work accelerated -- the same joke may land on the same ears millions of times. Indeed, the frightful Summoning of K'Hyl Ruoi, once requiring of several AOL members weeks of diligent labor, may now be performed by a single dark priest in less than an hour. The horrid Stale Old One Phunn E'phax did not even have a Ritual of Summoning (or at least no human Ritual) until but a few decades ago, and now his power and influence waxes almost as full as Ge'on-Ee Kharrs'n. As never in the history of man, some jokes have become so corrupted, so abominably stale, that e'en one who has never laid eyes upon it or its like before will be repelled by it.

Milton Berle, author of the monstrous and abhorred Secret Joke Files
It is with great fear that I look at the world about me, for now many jokes have been caught at the verge of death and made into tools of Staleness. It has been whispered from the earliest times that some grey day, entire kinds of jokes will become stale, so that even new jokes of those kinds will become unable to move men to laughter, the whole topic being stale (this will soon come to pass, if the abominable creature who recorded the Summoning of Ge'on-Ee Kharrs'n is to be believed -- and I shudder that I have seen too much not to believe him). Finally, there is that ultimate goal of the Stale Old Ones (insofar as such alien beings can be said to have ``goals''), which was only hinted at in the Old Tomes but which I must state clearly that others might learn and beware -- the ultimate destruction of all Mirth, so that Humor itself is seen as stale and unable to move men to laughter. This will do no less than throw wide the barriers that stand against the otherworldly antihumor, and the whole world will fall under the thrall of Staleness until the universe itself passes away.

Mankind's only hope, it is written cryptically in one of the older books I have seen, is to ``save the lost Japes, yea, e'en the Long Lost Japes that are beyond saving.'' This art of bringing Humor back into corrupted jokes is, alas, one that I have had no luck with. I therefore put down what Summonings I knew, in the hope that someone will find a way to fulfil the requirements of the old books. Many dark and horrid Grimoires to the Stale Old Ones are available to those with the eyes to recognize them, but I will mention a few particularly powerful ones here (may benevolent Goddess deliver them unto the 404th Circle of Nonexistence!):

I fear that my time is short, for I have seen too many of the Formulæ and have been too close to They Who Should Not Be Repeated. Even now I can find no mirth in any joke about quadrupeds, and have spent weeks without laughing and didn't notice until later. Soon, my humor will be no more, and my hollow soul will pass to whatever sad fate awaits the mirthless. May you have better luck than I.

All Hail ... um ... i forget

[Here the text trails off, with a pitiful, <blink> tagged attempt at a llama joke. --Ed.]