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Private Jokes

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I have to say, I rather like shrinks.

Surprising? Maybe.

I mean, most folks would get a little sick of them by this point. It would be easy to hold a grudge for all those bright therapy ideas they can come up with, and I can honestly say that I've probably been through it all. Counseling, drugs, good old electroshocks, you name it. Once they even forced me to watch the worst drivel TV has to offer all day long for months on end. Let me give you a bit of advice: never watch reality shows if you can avoid it. I mean it!

Anyway, it would be really easy to hold it against them, but I'm not that kinda guy. They're just too funny! They scramble around with their little notes, spouting their pretentious jargon, trying to classify me. They want to put me in a category, to find a label that sticks. Seriously, they probably exhausted their options by now. Split personalities, amnesia, PTSD, paranoid delusions, a whole bunch of syndromes, complexes, disorders and pizza orders. I swear, if I get called a psychopath or a sociopath again I'm gonna have to ask somebody what the heck is the difference!

There was this one theory that was really hilarious. A fairly competent Doc called my amazing condition "supersanity". Fancy huh? And the best thing is, he had absolutely no idea! He got close, pretty damn close, but I'm the supersane one so he never had a chance to figure it out. Not on his own anyway.

'Scuse me?! Did you just tell me to shut up?! Back at you, Dent! I'm exercising my right as a madman to talk to myself. You may wanna try it out too. It's very...therapeutic.

What was I going on about? Right, shrinks. Their problem is that they want to know the 'truth' about me. True story, true account of my past, a tale of my life before I had my revitalizing bath in a glorious chemical soup, courtesy of Batsy. This is where their mistake lies. They think I'm a locked door and my past is the key. Let me tell you, they couldn't be more wrong. Not that they have anything to complain about. I think I've given them more than enough options to pick from.

Maybe I was a failed comedian with a pregnant wife? Maybe I was a bored, suicidal career criminal in a desperate need for some Batman action? Maybe I had an abusive mommy, or auntie? Or maybe I was a visionary of crime, a real nihilist on a mission? Maybe I led a small army of red hoods on a sweet, sweet path of destruction across Gotham? Do you know which one of them I was? Because I sure as hell don't! Shrinks don't know either, and it can drive them stark raving mad!

Multiple choice, that's all there is to it.

Past or no past, they're looking way too far back to find the answer, but you gotta appreciate the effort. They want to open me up and pick me apart so badly it's flattering. How could I not love them? Of course I'm the one who picks them apart when the mood strikes, but you get the idea.

'Oh, but Joker,' you might ask, 'If it's not your tragic backstory, then what made you the Clown Prince of Crime we all know and love?'

Well, did you ever stop to think that maybe there is no 'why'? Maybe my genius was born, not made. A great force of nature and a homicidal maniac extraordinaire, that's me! You want me, or you wanna be me! No one inspires a good, healthy clown fetish like I do!

You know who else wanted me? Those bores in long coats, that's who! And boy, if you think shrinks are full of themselves, you gotta meet these guys. They came to me with their shades and leather and big talk about philosophy and destiny, and not one of them knew how to smile. I showed them, obviously.

They were so surprised, like they didn't know me at all! Not that I gave them all that much time to be surprised, but still. Did they really think I'll just eat up that red pill like it's candy?

The worst part is, they're in the know. They know, but they still don't get it! They don't get why anyone would refuse, why I would refuse. Well, sucks for them! If you ask me, they should be grateful. Pale and grinning is the new black, right? Joker Venom might be a tad overdone, but what can I say? Nothing beats the classics. Besides, they were already pretty stiff anyway.

Where was I? Right, the coats. They're just as hopeless as my ever-faithful head doctors, but that's what makes them so funny! They learned the truth about our little sandbox of a world, but they don't play in it. Sure, they do all that jumping and shooting, but where's the laugh? Where's the laugh, I ask you?!

Sometimes I wonder if my dear, batty bat-brains will ever get it, or if he even could. I say nay and I know him best, but that could be fun if it ever happened. Would he gulp down that red pill for Truth, Justice, and the American Way? No matter. He only has his eyes on the target, and the big, great Answer with a capital 'A' would just go way over his head. He's the Bat of Gotham, and he'd never leave his city. He'd never leave it to me, and I love him for it.

But the shrinks, they are always looking for the answer. They want to know what makes me tick, and not just any tick! We're talking about my own particular, uber-awesome brand of ticking! They want to figure me out, so they look. They look at me as I am now – a wolf in the fold, the celebrity of the highest order, the smiling face of Gotham – and they try to guess what I was before. Like it matters!

What they really should be looking at is this precious moment, my baptism of green, but that's what they usually skim over. Why? 'Cause that's the part everybody knows! Ace Chemicals, Batman doing his thing, and a man who would become yours truly taking a swan dive into the vat of joker-juice. What was before, now that's the great mystery; a mystery that could build a shrink's career.

Hmph! That won't get them their precious answer. Now, though... I guess I may as well say it. It's a secret, so listen closely. The truth behind this charming grin is the truth about the nature of the world. Don't believe me? Then what kind of imaginary audience are you?! You're supposed to agree with me, dammit! Agree, or I slash your stupid, nonexistent throat!

No, I don't need no sleeping pills! Thank you kindly!

That orderly really needs to loosen up. Maybe I'll do something about that when I'm on my way out again. Actually, scratch the 'maybe'. This man really needs my intervention before he scowls himself to death. There are funnier ways to die after all, and I have one or two ideas. For now, let's go back to the story. We're almost done here anyway.

So... do you understand already? Have you seen it for yourself? The place with cables, plugs and pods with pink goo? I'd like to meet the fella who designed it. Must be a joy to be around. It's not a sight you can forget, that's for certain. But I didn't want to stay there, oh no. It would be boring in the long run. All gray and empty and totally bat-free. Not my cup of tea, but when I saw it, I got it. The truth. There I was, on the shore, with my new gorgeous looks that's absolutely to die for, and my eyes were wide open!

Those bondage-loving pompous buffoons will never get it, even after seeing it with their own beady, joyless eyes. Always serious, always on edge. Some people just can't be helped. But at least they can take no for an answer. After I rejected the invitation into their private little club, they didn't bother me again. I wouldn't mind playing with them some more, but it's no great loss. They were dull. All work and no play.

The funny thing is, the last guy, the one who took the longest to go out with a smile actually asked why. Not why I killed him and his buddies, mind you. Why I refused their oh so generous offer! Why I didn't want to go to that gray world of theirs! Can you believe that?! Heh. He was a piece of work, I gotta hand it to him. Generally you don't explain the joke, but I made an exception for him. I told him...wait, how did it go? Oh, right.

The world around me is a big, cheerful playground, full of hospitals to blow up and lunatics in tights to mess around with. Why in Batman's name would I want to get out?!

What was his sagely reply to that? He called me insane and dropped dead mid-conversation. How rude! Kids of today, eh? Hmm. 'Insane and Proud'. I need to steal that t-shirt. What? It has to exist! We're in Gotham for Riddler's sake!

All right, Fried Face, quit your yelling! I'm done here. You can have your beauty sleep. Not that it'll help you any, but there you go.

One last thing. The guy? The dying leather-freak? I think I failed to convince him. All in all, I think I'm the only one who gets it. And you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way. Some secrets are only funny when they stay secrets. Just between me and myself. Hush, hush! Why spoil the fun?