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  • Writer's pictureDillan Taylor

The Joke That Never Works

Over the summer, two of my close friends were in town visiting family.

Excited to see them, if only for a few minutes, I called them to learn that they had already headed back home to Philadelphia.

In hindsight, they were leaving a chaotic family experience, dashing back to a city with a strict curfew during a pandemic, and exhausted–not from a weekend of leisure, but one of stress and obligation.

Unfortunately, none of these facts were present in my mind when I heard the wind of their open car windows on the other end of the phone.

I was hurt. My friends didn’t care to stop by and say hi.

If I had taken a second to consider what they were going through, I would’ve realized: No shit! They have much more important things to worry about right now. You’ll see them soon enough.

I tried to play it off with a joke. A joke that in fact, never works. I call it the “Thanks for the invite” joke.

This is a joke that attempts to playfully jab others for excluding you in some way. I’m not joking (clever). It literally never works.

My words in this particular situation were something like, “Well I guess I’ll go fuck myself.” Meaning: I guess I’m not important enough to give 5 minutes to.

Here’s why this joke always fails:

1) It’s not funny.

You’ll never hear anyone actually laugh at this type of joke.

Jokes have to be funnier than they are anything else: mean, clever, offensive, etc.

2) It promotes shame.

If you want to question why others have excluded you, then just ask. Hiding behind a “joke” is cowardly.

This kind of joke only stands to produce guilt; if that’s your motive, then you don’t actually care to get to the bottom of things for a resolution.

Which brings us to…

3) It doesn’t make them want to include you anymore than before.

If you say “I guess I didn’t get the invite!,” and the person then invites you, you know they are doing so out of guilt rather than a genuine desire to spend time with you.

If my friends turned around after I said what I said, it would have just been an awkward and obligatory meet-up…

It sucks to be excluded from things, but it’s bound to happen. You can either accept it, or in something like my case, you can take a second and think about what the other person is going through to figure out if you should actually be a priority or not.

If you’re really curious as to why you didn’t get an invite, reach out and inquire. But never use the Thanks for the invite joke, or anything like it. It doesn’t work and it doesn’t get you what you want.

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