One of them sees a little grime and rubs it off. Suddenly, a glorious genie springs forth from the lamp.
“I am the great genie of the lamp! Since I see you are insufferable postmodernist academics, I will grant you each one META-wish.”
The first academic ponders for a moment and says, “I wish this entire situation was fiction, being told as a joke. None of us are real.”
The second academic only takes a minute and says, “To improve the structure of the joke, I wish there were a third academic who also gets a wish.”
“GRANTED! And you, the third academic?”
The third, peeved at having been created to round out a three-beat structure, says, “I wish the joke wasn’t funny.”