A man was sentenced to prison and placed in his new cell. At lights out, he and his cellmate were chatting. In the background, the man could hear other prisoners talking in the darkness.
Before long, one of the inmates shouted “27!” Peals of laughter soon followed. Not long afterward, another inmate shouted “318!” and was answered with even more laughter.
Intrigued, the man asked his cellmate, “What’s the deal with calling out numbers?”
“Well you gotta understand, man,” said his cellmate. “Most of the guys in this wing have been in here for 20 years or more. So eventually you run out of new jokes to tell. Everyone’s heard them all. In fact we all have them memorized, and we’ve worked out a system where each joke is numbered. If you want to tell one, all you need to do is call out the number.”
The new prisoner chuckled. “Wow, that’s pretty neat. You think I can give it a try?”
“Sure, newbie,” his cellmate responded. “Give it a shot.”
So the man waited for a lull, then yelled out “278!”
He tried again. “415!”
The man was perplexed. He turned to his cellmate and asked, “Hey, what’s the deal here?”
“What can I say, man,” his cellmate replied. “Some people just can’t tell a joke.”