April 30th: “The Talker”

“The Talker,” by Chelsea Rathburn


I meant to post a lovely optimistic love poem for the last day of April, and then I read this on yesterday’s April Is and I couldn’t resist. Inside jokes are one of my favorite things, and one of the most tragic things to me when a relationship of any kind ends for whatever reason: “No one will ever get this joke again.” The hardest times for me after my mother died were (and are) when I saw something in the newspaper or heard a story and thought, “Mom would have thought that was hilarious,” and I couldn’t call and tell her about it.

As a writer, it can be hard to create a real sense of intimacy between two characters who are supposed to have known each other a long time. And I think giving them a few inside jokes that are hilarious to them, and maybe not to anyone else (sometimes including to the reader) is a great place to start.

I thought it was done really well between Holmes and Watson in the recent movie, who had practically an entire language of case-solving and Inspector-Lestrade-mocking that very, very clearly had a long, shared, affectionate history behind it. And while I’ve only seen part of the first season, I thought Marshall and Lily on How I Met Your Mother was a great example of a believable longterm relationship with its own in-jokes and rituals that still didn’t confuse or exclude the viewer.

Can you think of a time you’ve seen inside jokes done really well in a story or on TV?

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