A joke that has outlived its shelf-life is consistently referred to as a “clam.” I’ve talked a little about these before, I believe. You know a clam when you hear it. Here are a few of them: “I’m switching you to decaf.” “Check please.” “Who are you and what have you done with ___?” “Did I say that out loud?” “Too much information!” and its brother (hand over ears) “La la la”. Also we have “Was it something I said?” And “That didn’t come out right.” Or “That came out wrong.” And finally “That went well,” and its sister, “He seems nice”.
However, there are ways to adapt or revive clams even after they start to smell. Ways to extend their usefulness…
Find out more at Jane Espenson’s lovely, lunch-obsessed blog.
What’s interesting about the examples given is that they’re the kind of jokes I would avoid using altogether. When your character says “Did I just say that out loud?”, they are talking like a character in a sitcom. And yeah, real people do talk like characters in sitcoms, but I’d like my characters to talk like people who don’t talk like characters in sitcoms. No clams, fresh or otherwise.
Basically, I don’t want to be stuffing something that smells like fish into anybody’s mouth.
Huh. Well that didn’t come out right.