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The dialog is as follows

Sheldon: How do you propose we move forward?

Howard: Uh, for starters, we could stop insulting each other.

Sheldon: That’s a great idea. And in the spirit of our new arrangement, I will mask my surprise that you came up with it.

I kept staring at the bold sentence for quite some time and looked up examples of usage of "mask" and still don't get it.

Sheldon is surprised that Howard came up with that idea, but he is hiding (=masking) his surprise with Howard's action of coming up with that idea? I don't get it. How is that supposed to be funny?

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Here is how it's funny.

  1. Sheldon sees the sense in Howard's idea.
  2. Sheldon is admitting that he is surprised Howard came up with it.
  3. Sheldon realizes that being surprised when Howard comes up with a good idea is to assume low intellect on Howard's part, and hence it's insulting.
  4. So Sheldon says, he will mask his surprise.
  5. The irony here is that in saying he will mask it, Sheldon has already insulted Howard. Hence the joke.

Hope this helps.

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    Aha, so instead of saying "I am surprised that you can come up with a good idea" which contradicts Sheldon's intention of stop insulting Howard, Sheldon still indicated that he is surprised, but that he will hide it. Right? – Ghaith Alrestom Sep 26 '15 at 4:59
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    Yes. That's correct, and hence the joke :). Good question! – Prashant Sep 26 '15 at 5:01

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