For local funny man Jeff Brown — who wears clown shoes every day and treats April Fools’ Day like a national holiday — there are few things better than when people take his jokes seriously.
“The kind of humor I like is the kind that makes you think as well as laugh,” said Brown, father of two satirical publications here in town, the now defunct Juneau What newspaper and Real Alaska Magazine. “I’ve done my job if people think my jokes are real.”
Job well done, Jeff.
Two weeks ago he posted several joke fliers around Juneau advertising a community pot garden in the vacant Walmart building off of Glacier Highway, and several people, including me, took the phony fliers seriously — or seriously enough to call Walmart and ask about the garden.
The pot garden advertisement wasn’t Brown’s first joke flier. He’s been posting a new flier every week on bulletin boards throughout town since April. His goal: to come out with new fliers on a weekly basis for a whole year.
So far, the project hasn’t always been easy, Brown says. He works a few weeks ahead, always keeping at least a couple fliers ready and waiting. But coming up with 52 ideas, and then turning them into fliers, is no small undertaking.
Brown said he carries three-by-five note cards in his pockets everywhere he goes, so that he’s always ready in case a good idea strikes him.
“I’ve got a goal of 52 posters, so I have to keep coming up with ideas and making posters no matter where I am,” Brown told the Empire in the KTOO building where he works as program director for KTOO and KRNN — when he’s not busy writing jokes that is.
Some of his recent fliers include one that simply said “Flier” centered on a white sheet of paper with a slim black border. Another advertised “Free! Little pieces of paper!” It of course employed the classic flier “take one” pull-tabs lined along the bottom.
Brown is no stranger to humor. In addition to the two satirical publications he ran, he used to work at kids parties where he would make balloon animals and perform magic tricks — hence the clown shoes. For Brown, every interaction is offers him a new chance to make somebody laugh, and he seizes every opportunity to make a joke. I couldn’t make it through a 30-minute interview with Brown without laughing.
So far, Brown has tried to remain fairly anonymous, hiding his identity as best he can from those seeking out the source of the fliers.
“Mostly, I like to put them up and skedaddle,” he said. “I just want to be a fly on the wall. It’s kind of my secret identity.”
And he has been to do just that. He recently watched a group of people waiting for a table at the Island Pub laugh at one of his fliers posted there. From what he has observed the fliers have been well received, which he’s happy to see because he’s contemplating discontinuing Real Alaska Magazine to pursue his poster project.
Brown said that he thinks he has “mined all of the funny stuff” that he can for the magazine, which he’s published annually since 2010. The fliers offer him a chance to tell jokes that aren’t just Alaska specific, and that’s precisely why he likes them.
He’s currently emailing the fliers to a small group of people each week so that they will print the fliers themselves and post them wherever they can. Brown is widening the scope of his humor in the hope of making his fliers gain popularity “globally if possible.”
Lofty goals aside, Brown also likes the fliers because they help him to accomplish his ultimate goal: to inject humor into life wherever possible.
“The most fun for me is that I get to put them places where people don’t expect to find humor,” he said. “My job in life is to make people laugh, to come up with things that will chuckle a little bit here and there.”
• Contact reporter Sam DeGrave at 523-2279 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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