AMA: The Rodney Dangerfield Dream Joke

Hi Corey, I have a question for you. One night last March I had a dream that I was watching Rodney Dangerfield perform in a comedy club. He told a joke that the audience barely laughed at, and that I didn’t get at all. When I woke up I still didn’t get it. Here’s the joke: “Just heard the weather report. It’ll be operations in rain today. Heck, I’m standing IN operations! Huh. No respect.” Remember, he only told this joke in my dream. Can you please tell me how it’s funny? I still don’t get it. – Nick

Hi, Nick – thanks for reading and asking!

I can’t believe you don’t know that extremely famous Rodney Dangerfield joke? Everyone knows that joke! “Standing in operations”! Whoo-boy, so good!

Yeah no that doesn’t make any sense. I was trying to connect some pretty vague dots between running military operations in the rain and standing at attention but… It doesn’t really work.

Since the in-dream audience didn’t laugh either, my guess is it wasn’t supposed to be a good joke. Maybe dream-Rodney was working out new material. Or maybe he was riffing and stumbled.

Dreams are created by the sub-conscious, possibly by our brains trying to make sense of brain synapses and light patterns we see while sleeping. Or something else. I don’t think anyone really knows for sure why we dream or what they’re supposed to be. Maybe we’re actually peaking into an alternate reality. Sometimes they make sense, sometimes they’re even meaningful and help us work things out, and sometimes they are a random assortment of images and events.

I’ve had plenty of dreams where I or someone tells a joke or says something that is supposed to be funny, but it actually either isn’t funny at all or straight out makes no sense in the real world. I’ve come to the conclusion that what is being said doesn’t actually matter, it’s just a place-holder. It’s kind of a Mad Libs collection of words that sound similar to a cohesive thought but are only there to represent someone saying that type of thing in that kind of moment. The moments around what they said are probably more important. But our brains like to try to figure things out, so after we wake up, it’s easy to latch on the nonsensical part and try to make sense of it, when that might not have been the part of the dream our brain wanted us to focus on.

So I guess that’s my answer. The content of Rodney Dangerfield’s joke is irrelevant. Instead, look at the context. What does the joke represent and what was happening before and after it. There might be something more meaningful there.

Or your brain was just amusing itself with total gibberish and none of it holds any significance. Yay human brains!

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