On May 1, 2006, Marc Lesser, Matt Kalman, and Nicole Stagg started what they hoped would become an immense online collection of jokes—no amusing Flash shooting games, no ironic eBaum’s World videos, just plain and simple jokes. What started as a few crew members messing around during a break on a movie set evolved into what they call their “joke-u-mentary.” The Joke Project is not just about recording the jokes, but documenting the ways in which they are told. To make each daily one-minute podcast, the crewmembers take to the streets of the New York area to record random pedestrians telling their favorite jokes. Since their start in May 2006, they’ve recorded a new joke every weekday.
Each weekday, the latest one-minute segment, containing one to six jokes, is posted on the blog. The segments are tagged with one of four ratings – SC (Squeaky Clean), RH (Relatively Harmless), PD (Pretty Dirty) or XN (X-tremely Naughty). The Index contains all individual jokes, noted by the name of the joke, while the Archives hold the daily segments, ordered by date. The collection includes jokes told by kids and adults, individuals and 2 to 3-person groups, and sometimes even jokes that have been filmed at Joke Project gatherings. Since joke-telling has long been an oral tradition, jokes can often morph and be told in various variations, such as the Interrupting Cow joke, which is retold on the site as both the Interrupting Fist and Interrupting Starfish. Some joke-tellers crack themselves up, while others remain perhaps too straight-faced, leaving an awkward silence behind. The X-tremely Naughty jokes aren’t quite as offensive as the creators might think, and the Michael Jackson jokes can get old, but something the project doesn’t do is discriminate. All jokes get published, whether they flop or not. If you are located in the tri-state area and can organize a party large enough, The Joke Project will come to you to record you and your friends’ jokes, and even leave you with your own copy of the tape.