Picture the following scene in your mind:

You have no money in your pocket and you are standing by the bank.

Got the picture so far?  OK, continue:

Now you rake your fishing pole and cast out over the bank into the river.

SURPRISE!  Odds are that you interpreted the word "bank" as a building with a vault inside.  You were set up for that interpretation by reading the word "money".  The old noggin figured it meant a money bank instead of a riverbank for two reasons.  First, unless you're Tom Sawyer you probably stand around money banks more than riverbanks.  Second, because money was mentioned the context pointed towards a money bank.

Naturally, all this information is processed up in your noodle so fast that you just take it all for granted.  But those instances where your memory banks (aha, yet another "bank") lead you down the wrong path are very important.  Why?  Because a lot of humor depends on that mental tickle you experience when you discover you were on the wrong path.  Comedians often try to surprise you with an new or unexpected meaning to an old familiar phrase.  When Henny Youngman says, "People are strange, take my wife...please TAKE my wife", he makes you think of an old phrase in new terms.  You can't help it, it's so automatic you'd be more successful trying not to think of the meaning of words you hear or see.  Anyway, conundrums often activate that automatic comparison in your head, and this book uses pictures to supply the novel meaning.  So get ready to have your train of thought derailed with some antic semantics and prepare to read the wit in the written word.  You may have to think twice, but you will literally see what I mean.

B. Jay Martin