It is Fred’s first day in prison. After spending the morning being processed, he is taken to the huge mess hall for lunch. He finds a seat at a table full of inmates who look like they have been behind bars for years.
Suddenly, an inmate stands in the middle of the room and yells, “41!” As he sits down, the room erupts in laughter.
Then another prisoner stands and yells, “123!” Again, there is laughter throughout the room.
Puzzled, Fred asks the inmate sitting next to him what’s going on. “Well,” the older inmate says, “Most of us have been here so long that we have heard all the jokes. So we just number them and use the number.”
Fred says, “I love to tell jokes! Give me one.”
“Okay,” says the older inmate. “Everybody loves old 72. It always gets a big laugh”
Fred stands up, waits for the laughter to die down from the last joke, and yells, “72!”
There is nothing but silence as hundreds of inmates just turn and stare at him.
Fred sits down and looks at the inmate who gave him the number. “What happened?” he asks.
The older man shrugs and says, “Some people just can’t tell a joke.”