Eli Duke

The Purest Form of Humor

Since as far back as I can remember, I’ve been a sassy little shit. Ask any of my friends or family, friends of family, teachers, my friends’ parents… pretty much anyone I’ve ever interacted with. But, as I’ve heard my mother say many times before, I come by it honestly.

The Purest Form of Humor

When I was three-years-old, I was crossing the street with my mother. She reached out to me and said, “Eli, hold my hand while we cross the street.” I pulled my hand back and said, “I’ll hold my own hand!”

A couple months later, I was playing outside in the front yard and ran into the street, right in front of a car. It screeched to a halt just as our neighbor Calorlyn raced out into the street and grabbed me, shouting “Eli! Don’t run out in front of cars like that!” I responded, clearly annoyed, “Carolyn. The car stopped.”

When I was in pre-school, my best friend David and I came up with a plan for our school picture. The day came, my Mom picked us up from school, and she immediately asked about them. We gave them to her, she flipped through for a moment, and then looked back at us confused, “You guys aren’t smiling.” We looked right back at her, eye to eye, with purpose. A moment passsed and then I said, “Yeah. That was the point.”

But, as I said before, I come by it honestly because my Mom is real sassy too. In highschool she woke me up one winter morning, and, when I was getting my towel to go take a shower, she jumped into my bed and snuggled in under the covers. As I was walking out of the room, I looked back at her pulling the covers up around her neck, really hamming it up. One of her hands slipped through her blanket collar, and she flipped me the bird.

Nice, Mom. Real nice.


The surest way into my heart is to make fun of me. Whatever you do, give me a hard time.

Almost immediately the normal social barriers start to come down. It feels so much more real and honest because it’s not easy to truly give someone a hard time. It takes practice. You have to really know someone to give them the amount of shit that they deserve. And you have to say it just right because it needs to be hilarious, but it also needs to sting a little. That’s the fun part! And when you really get someone or someone really gets you, there’s nothing funnier in this world.

It truly is the purest form of humor.

When you are really giving someone a hard time, you have to do it right to their face. And in doing so, you invite them to return the favor. A true piss-taker rejoices in discovering a new friend who’s down to take it there, and strong friendships form quickly. As that friendship evolves and grows, you learn how to give each other a hard time better, you learn the right moment, the right tone; you learn new ways to give each other a hard time.

Like that one time at that slumber party when Drew’s only source of warmth was the Green Blanket of Shame. It’s a funny story, you should ask him about it sometime.