Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight

UChicago Supplement Prompt: Winston Churchill believed "a joke is a very serious thing." From Off-Off Campus’s improvisations to the Shady Dealer humor magazine to the renowned Latke-Hamantash debate, we take humor very seriously here at The University of Chicago (and we have since 1959, when our alums helped found the renowned comedy theater The Second City).Tell us your favorite joke and try to explain the joke without ruining it.

I was wandering down a typically busy hallway at my high school feeling like death. The burden of academic hardship weighed down on the shoulders of even the brightest young scholars. However, in an honest attempt to bolster the ever-thinning optimism of the student body, an irritatingly cheerful group had decided to plaster motivational quotes and messages all over the otherwise regular campus walls and structures. This was when—oddly enough—I discovered my favorite joke.

I turned my head by chance to find a trifling piece of pink copy paper strung up on the wall by a single piece of blue tape. As a lone ornament on an otherwise regular stretch of white paint and drywall, it looked quite ridiculous—or at least fearlessly minimalistic. The paper’s faded black text unabashedly spelled out an old Japanese proverb in what looked to be Comic Sans: “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.” I gawked dumbly at the message and read it several times over as other students passed me by in the hallway. I had heard the saying before, and I knew the message it tried to convey as well. It all amounted to a slightly more rustic version of “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” I mused over the page for another moment or so until the...

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