What do you call Chewbacca when he’s working with clay?
“Harry Potter,” Jason Schneider, 26, quipped for tourists from Pittsburgh who tossed a greenback into his neon green money bucket over Labor Day weekend. They laughed.
Who did the promiscuous cow sleep with?
“Udderly everyone,” he zinged. Another laugh.
What do you call a seeing-eye cow? “Hamburger helper,” he added. They laughed again.
The al fresco funnyman is at the park almost every day. He stands on the tree-shaded, midpark Mall by a bench with a plaque that reads: “When there is no wind, row,” a saying of author George Plimpton’s.
“That’s exactly what I’m doing because I couldn’t get a job,” Schneider said during down time.
He came to the city in 2007 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania and applied for work at Comedy Central, HBO, Time Warner – you name it – but had no luck. Temp jobs were fun but short-lived. One was a four-day gig riding a Segway to hand out flyers in Times Square and Bryant Park.
He started telling jokes in the park in April. The first day, he made $140 in six hours. He decided to stick with it.
“He’s funnier than a lot of comedians we’ve seen in comedy clubs,” said one of the guys from Pittsburgh, Murray Shapiro, 59.
After they moved on, Schneider did dance steps by his money bucket and hoisted his “$1 Jokes” sign in the air.
“I don’t have a dollar, but I like your idea,” a jogger called out.
He told small-fry-friendly jokes when kids were in earshot. During busy moments, people waited in line for a turn.
There was no shortage of chuckles and happy customers as Schneider delivered as many as 15 jokes for every $1.
Why are sharks racist?
“Only the white ones are great,” got laughs.
Did you hear Viagra makes you deaf?
“That’s where the phrase ‘hard of hearing’ comes from.”
“He brightened my day,” said one customer, Mary McLean, 52, from South Lanarkshire, Scotland.
Another customer even told Schneider a joke in return.
“Why do cows have hooves? Because they lac-tose,” offered Paul Tyldesley, 32, of Sheffield, England.
Get it? They lack toes.
Being funny is serious business when the audience is standing a few inches away, in the light of day. Schneider goes to a Starbucks at 6 each weekday morning for a four-hour writing session.
“I write 20 jokes a day, and maybe two are good enough to use in the park. And of those, maybe one will stick,” he said.
It took him a while to perfect his open-air delivery.
“In the beginning, sometimes people asked for their money back,” he said about his jokes that fell flat.
“Even now, if they don’t laugh, I make them take their money back. It keeps me on my toes.”