Archive for the 'Funny' Category


vicious old queens

Frances de la Tour, Ian McKellen, Derek Jacobi and Iwan Rheon. (Image: Patrick Redmond)

There was a time when a show like “Vicious” might have seemed daring, but today it feels quaint, comfortable, silly. And I don’t think it intends to be much more than that, and that’s OK.

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The Sole of Wit

As we settle into the on-ramp to middle age, my husband and I find ourselves utterly captivated by the lamest of intellectual parries and thrusts. One of our favorites is the synonym game. “Eat,” one of us will say. “Devour,” the other will say. “Chew,” comes the reply, followed by “masticate,” “digest,” and so on and so forth.

Last night, inspired by a piscine pun a friend of ours wrote as a Facebook status update, Jeff asked me to name species of fish.

“Uh… trout?” I said. “Pike. Flounder. Why?”

He showed me the picture on our friend Marc’s Facebook wall, a folk-art plate with a fish skeleton painted on it, accompanied by the words “Tuna Half Men. Sole Train.”

Ah. I was beginning to understand.

“I’ve already got ‘Carp 54, Where Are You?'” Jeff said. I need another one.

I gave it a long, hard think. Before long I had one. Perfect.

“Who’s the Bass?” I said.

And we were off.

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Telling Tales

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine was recorded for a radio series reading a story he wrote about his exile from southern Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.

He’s good at telling stories. Some kind of southern thing, I guess. And he’s earned some renown in the local story slam circuit. In fact, he was on the radio because he was one of a sextet of story slam audience favorites.

My friends and I like to support that sort of thing, so a bunch of us joined him at his apartment on the night of the broadcast.

It was delightfully Golden Age, each of us taking a silent seat wherever we could to listen to a radio in real time. Table lamps cast an amber glow on our expectant faces. There was an old, gray dog curled up on the couch, and it was raining outside. All we were missing was a roaring fireplace and the faint haze of smoldering pipe tobacco. We could have been a pack of kids staying up past our bedtime to catch Gunsmoke on the wireless or to hear what happened last to Little Orphan Annie.

Actually, it was nothing at all like that. We all checked in on Foursquare, and I tweeted throughout the evening. And there was plenty of smoking, but it was all done just outside of the front door. But we did listen to the show on an ancient, crackly radio. The antenna was completely broken off. It leaned against a lamp for vertical support, and naught but gravity held it on its base with the most tenuous of connections. Sharp “s” and “f” sounds came through harsh and distorted. If someone stood too near the radio, we’d lose the signal for a moment. If a footfall shook the floor, the antenna would slip off its perch and the radio would go altogether silent.

It was right near the liquor, so we lost the signal a lot.

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Sam Clam and Larry Lobster


There’s this joke I love that I heard recently on a public radio podcast, and I love to tell it, but no one ever thinks it’s nearly as funny as I do.

I’m not a great teller of jokes. I tend to improvise too much, I take too long, I mess up the punchline. OK, not funny. But is my new favorite joke itself a stinker, or is it just my lousy telling that clears the room? You decide.

Larry Lobster and Sam Clam are best friends. They do everything together. And they love to dance. So one day they decide to go into business together. They are going to open an underwater disco.

They find the perfect location in a coral reef. They secure their funding, gather their supplies, hire a staff. They begin to advertise. All the fish and mollusks and crustaceans are thrilled that they’ll finally have a place to dance. And Sam Clam and Larry Lobster begin to sense that they’re going to make a killing.

Everything is going perfectly the day of their grand opening. And then Larry Lobster gets caught in a trap and killed.

So Larry Lobster goes to heaven. Saint Peter meets him at the gate.

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I Heart Betty White

We’re down two Golden Girls, with two to go. Oh, it pains me to think of losing Rue McClanahan and Betty White. Yet it’s hard to resist the speculation: Who will be the last Girl standing?

Meanwhile, this is hilarious! Betty White calls Ryan Reynolds an “ab-crunching jackass,” and he tells her to suck a hot cock. And Sandra Bullock slaps Reynolds around for picking on poor Betty.

I know I’m totally falling for this viral marketing, but I’ll probably never see the movie its meant to promote. The worst part: I have an irrational dislike of Sandra Bullock, but this clip is actually making me like her.


Falling For It

When Gmail offered me an automatic email response generator, I didn’t think much about it.

A bit weird, I thought, but why not? When Google is constantly testing new and improved ways to make useful the ceaseless stream of information it gathers from us second be ever-lovin’ second, it seems perfectly plausible (though not, I hope, reasonable) that next on the list would be a service that scans your incoming messages and automatically generates a response, matching your style and tone, without a second thought from you.

They called the service “Gmail Autopilot,” powered by something called by CADIE, or “Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity

“Email will never be a thing of the past,” it declared, “but actually reading and writing messages is about to be” — as if it’s a terrible burden to think for oneself.

Who would use this? I thought. Who could be so lazy?

I wondered — hoped, really — if the system would only generate the email, leaving the decision to send or not to send up to the user. To find out, I clicked the link to “learn more.” I briefly considered trying it, but thought better of it.

Later, inspired by the dawn of National Poetry Month, I decided to resume reading the daily emails I have been receiving for years from The Writer’s Almanac. Leave it to Garrison Keillor to kill a perfectly good joke. Today’s post included the following entry:

Today is April Fools’ Day, and it’s also on this day in 2004 that Google released Gmail to the public. Many people thought it was a joke: It offered a whole gigabyte of storage, which was exponentially greater than what was offered by other free e-mail services at the time.

Gmail has played a number of memorable pranks on April Fools’ Day. Last year, users signing into their Gmail account on April Fools’ Day saw a banner announcing “New! Gmail Custom Time,” which supposedly allowed users to pre-date some of their outgoing e-mail messages. On April 1, 2006, Google announced a new dating service, called Google Romance. They said, “When you think about it, love is just another search problem.”

Nicely played, Google. I thought the examples on the “Autopilot” FAQ page seemed excessively humorous.

After this, I seemed to find practical jokes everywhere I turned.

YouTube was upside down today, which I thought was brilliant — only if one’s Web browser was capable of displaying the upside-down typeface.

Click to enlarge.

I found a fake news story on today’s NPR’s Morning Edition broadcast about The Economist opening up a theme park.

I received a tweet about today’s Planet Money podcast having an April Fool’s Day joke in it.

Even the BBC World Service broadcast this morning, I remembered, included a segment during which a series of implausible headlines was read aloud and the listeners were invited to write in and guess which one was actually false. It seemed to me at the time just like a cute listener-response segment like that game they play on Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me.

An aside: All this online tomfoolery at least explains why Queerty released a new page design yesterday. They must have been careful to avoid April 1, because the changes they made certainly do seem like a joke. (This is among the worst page design I have seen.)

Three people at work told friends and loved ones via email that they had been laid off in a surprise downsizing. Only one of them succeeded in tricking someone.

I can’t remember a time since I was a kid that I’ve seen so much attention paid to an April Fool’s Day. I began to fear that people would stop believing what I was saying, expecting at any moment to be the subject of a prank. I began to feel obligated to play some kind of mischief myself. If I weren’t so terribly bad at lying, I might have tried it.

Maybe we just need some fun in the news these days. It’ll be back to normal tomorrow.


Mommie Draggest

octo-drag mommy
[source: Life & Style, 3/30/09, vol. 6, issue 13]

We Don’t Need Another Hero

Those black woolen thigh-length coats with the big buttons are great in the winter. What are they called? Not a pea coat. Anyway, the problem with them is the way they shed buttons like autumn leaves. At any given time at least one button is hanging on by a whisper, and another one is missing altogether.

Until recently, following a drunken mishap my friend and I no longer remember very clearly, mine was missing one at the top, one at the bottom, and a smaller one at the cuff.

I stopped in at a cleaners/tailor shop to ask if I could buy some replacements. While he sorted through some Tupperware containers of random spare buttons, I noticed tacked to the wall a photo that I recognized in an uncomfortable way. It was identical to the profile photo of a stranger who once friend requested me on Facebook.

The reason I remember the picture is that the guy in it is dressed in a superhero costume of his own design: shiny blue and silver and black fabric, a black silver-edged mask. I thought little of it, assuming it was a Halloween picture, but a brief investigation into his profile revealed many, many more images of this guy in variously slick and slender and shiny costumes. Capes, masks, gloves — the whole bit.

It wasn’t the tailor, unless he had gained weight recently. He was probably just someone he knew. With tailoring skills. What if it was his younger brother. Or … maybe his boyfriend! Maybe the tailor made the costume, and he was showing off the work, and not the person. Whatever it was, I resisted the temptation to ask who the masked man was. I just didn’t want to get into it.

In his Facebook profile, he described his hobby of wearing superhero costumes. Just for fun. All year round. Like, to wear at parties and stuff.

There are pictures of me in a Green Lantern t-shirt on my profile, and I list comic books as an interest. I imagine that’s why he found me, but it ends there for me.

I did not accept his friend request.


The Six Million Dollar Rabbit

A colleague just turned me on to Buns and Chou Chou, two rabbits with their own Web series called Rabbit Bites.

Like anything involving anthropomorphized animals, it sort of defies comprehension. See for yourself.

… but give them time.


U. S. of Ab Fab

Eddie and Patsy
Sweetie, darling! I mean … like, dude.

Absolutely Fabulous is heading to the states! Again?

After Roseanne Barr’s aborted attempt to make an American version a decade ago, apparently someone else is willing to take up the dangerous, possibly career-chilling mantle of developing for an American audience a hit British TV show that only enjoyed cult status in the States. (There are so many. Do you watch BBC America?) Fox has bought the pilot episode of a new Ab Fab series.

Translating English to English, er — British to American worked for a while with some game shows. It worked with Harry Potter. It’s working with The Office, though it is a wholly different show from the UK original. But can it work for Ab Fab, a show that was so stuck in the moment and instantly dated that it failed to reinvent itself across five series even for its own adoring audience?

Apparently brassy boozers Eddie and Patsy will be living it up in Los Angeles this time — as ever under the disapproving eye of daughter Saffy. No word yet on casting, but we know Jennifer Saunders will be executive producer. Will the girls be American or British? Is this a new television show altogether? Or should we just think of it as Series 6?

I can’t imagine the cast is the same. They were getting to be a bit past their sell-by date even in series 4 and 5, which I think saw a general erosion of the concept and was genuinely less funny.

I have loved Ab Fab from the beginning. My friend first told me about it in 1994, upon his return from a year in England. They hadn’t even gotten through the original three series by then. I was a young-buck college freshman and hungry for gay, gay, gay — and here it was! I had the entire three-series set on VHS. Now, of course, I have all five seasons on DVD. Plus the specials. I adore it. It makes me all warm and gooey inside.

This clip goes all the way back to the first episode of the first series, but I think it is still my absolute favorite. You never want the party to end … but I fear that the longer the show ran, the more diluted, the less funny, the more bizarre it got. This contains some of the best lines of the entire show.

I love Ab Fab like I love ’80s music. It is classic, it appeals to my baser nature, it fills me with joy, and it is surrounded by a cultish enthusiasm. You had to have been there when it was new and relevant, when it was a phenomenon, in order to understand it and care about it. People just a few years younger than me, who have never seen a single episode, usually don’t care to. The accent is hard to understand. They don’t get the humor. And who are those celebrities they are making fun of, anyway?

(Sometimes even I have trouble with that one.)

But maybe those are precisely the folks who will go ga-ga for this new round. Who knows. For some reason, the idea of a couple of 40-something women, boozing it up in L.A., in complete denial of their age, their desperation and their destructiveness, doesn’t necessarily sound funny to me. It just sounds accurate.

Good luck to you, Ms. Saunders! I will certainly be watching.

the untallied hours