NPF: FUNNY

I am lucky enough to live in a place with a large community of fellow comedians (relative to the city size) as well as proximity to Atlanta, one of the top three or four comedy cities in the country. There's been a bit of drama recently mirroring some of the controversy on the national stage in the past few months regarding "the line" over which comedians cannot cross.

Briefly, a group of people in town are organizing a comedy show that purports to be "anti-sexist" and "inclusive". This is no doubt a response to the fact that the average amateur comedy show / open mic night is filled to bursting with borderline (or worse) jokes about race, gender, sexual orientation, rape, masturbation, and so on. There are a lot of reasons for this. First, it's easy. Budding comedians learn quickly that "bathroom" humor and playing to stereotypes is like a crutch. Why? Because second, people laugh at it. Remember the kind of crap that is popular in this country; whether we're talking about books, music, movies, or comedy, people tend to like lowbrow, hacky crap. Third, one of the pillars of comedy (of which there are four, and that's a post for another day) is transgressing boundaries. People expect to be shocked a little, to have a few "Oh my, he did NOT just say that!" moments. Fifty years ago when married couples on TV slept in separate beds it was easy to shock people. Lenny Bruce was thrown in jail for saying "fuck". Today, with regular network TV laden with people murdering, swearing, and blowing each other for drugs, it takes quite a lot to shock people. This is directly responsible, I believe, for the recent explosion in jokes about abortion, rape, and other similar subjects. It's just so hard to shock people these days, comedians keep going farther and farther trying to do it…

There's definitely a line. People cross it. Tracy Morgan (who, according to the tales I hear from touring performers, really is the biggest asshole on the planet) did. Michael Richards did. Lots of people you've never heard of (and never will) cross it on a nightly basis. In the past few months in my small city alone I've seen:

1) A 10 minute act about how Asian people talk funny consisting of…a man imitating the way Asians talk
2) Entire sets of rape jokes
3) A half-dozen frat boys in backward baseball caps doing whole sets of frat boy humor, i.e., women are stupid bitches, and it is funny what stupid bitches they are.
4) Gratuitous on-stage use of words like "fag" and "nigger", sometimes by people who use such language regularly and sometimes by people who would never speak that way offstage but want to be "edgy".

I don't have the slightest doubt that people walk away from these shows offended. All of the preceding said, I think having a night of PC Comedy is just about the worst idea ever.

I have no way to reconcile the opposing realities that, A) people have a right to be in public spaces without being belittled, singled out, or demeaned, and B) comedy doesn't work if you give people a list of things not to talk about. The only way to push the boundaries and come up with something new is to push the boundaries. Performers have to use their own common sense in doing so. I try to do that by asking myself why, not merely if, things are funny. If you say "fag" on stage, is it funny because "Hah! He said 'fag'!" or because the audience is supposed to realize how idiotic people who say things like that are? Be honest with yourself when you think about what kind of laughs you're getting. Sometimes I worry about this. When I say that I love the War on Drugs because it's so good at filling prisons with brown people, 90% of the crowd will laugh because it's sarcasm pointing out an uncomfortable reality and social problem, 8% will be offended, and 2% will laugh because, yeah, brown people are all gang members. I can't control that. And I'd rather accept the downside than tell a bunch of jokes about airport security and TV dinners.

From the audience's perspective, when performers cross the line don't get cranky about it if you're not willing to let them know. Boo them. Tell them after the show "Your 10 minutes of rape jokes were horribly offensive, you hack. Too bad you can't make people laugh without going there." Live performance is a process of elimination – don't feel bad about pushing people who suck at it toward the exit (or, more optimistically, pushing them to think harder and come up with better material). Alternatively, you could decide that you're not going to get offended over comedy. That's not easy for everyone to do, of course, because "It's just a joke!" is the Tucker Max Defense, which is to say it isn't a valid defense when people cross the line. Being offended is a risk we accept when we agree to interact with the world, though. Don't let it keep you home. On balance you're better off being offended at Open Mic Night than sitting at home watching G-rated comedy from, I don't know, Sinbad.

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28 Responses to “NPF: FUNNY”

  1. J. Dryden Says:

    Freud makes a rather compelling case that all humor is based on being exclusive–that somebody has to be the butt of the joke. Ethnic/Sexist/Gays-sure-are-different! jokes are the obvious examples, but even really good standup (Carlin, Pryor, Bruce, Louis CK, Hicks, Oswald–I could go on, but you get the sense of my taste) is usually based in "people who think/act conventionally are fucking morons."

    The comedy of self-deprecation is, I suppose, an exception to this rule–it's also usually more sad than funny (has anyone ever sat through an entire Richard Lewis set?) But even there, the underlying message is "Feel sorry for me because I don't live up to the unreasonable standards made up by privileged assholes–fuck them, amirite?" Same with the comedy of absurdity (Wright, Hedberg)–such comedy comes from bafflement at the concept of the 'norm' and how it doesn't work if you think objectively about it: "Why is the alphabet in that order? Is it because of the song?" Hell, even Gallagher's watermelon schtick takes the form of mocking the people who make infomercials and the people who buy the shit that's sold there.

    So 'inclusive' comedy won't fucking work. If we don't laugh *at* someone, we can't laugh at anything *human.* Even when we laugh at ourselves, we're laughing at the worst *versions* of ourselves, which we immediately displace onto other people: "Oh, yeah, I sometimes do that–man, other people who do that *suck*."

    And you can't be "inclusive" *and* "anti-" anything. Either all may enter, or you're a fucking doorman whose jobs it is to keep the losers out. (Plus which, there's already plenty of "anti-sexist" humor–I direct you to every single female comic on the planet. So making a night of it is fine, just, you know, let them bring the funny first and foremost, and don't break your arm patting yourself on the back for doing something that's already common.)

    All of which is to say: Inclusive comedy is A. an oxymoron, and B. will not be funny. I'll stay home that night and listen to Bill Hicks describe various talentless celebrities choking on the maggoty semen spurting out of Satan's cock. Now *that*'s good comedy.

  2. Matthew Says:

    This is hardly a suitable topic for NPF material, but I feel compelled to share one of the best takes on political correctness, taken from a piece that David Foster Wallace wrote on a conservative talk show host (John Ziegler, who's gotten back into the news cycle lately) for the Atlantic:

    "This is obviously a high-voltage area to get into, but for what it's worth, John Ziegler does not appear to be a racist as "racist" is generally understood. What he is is more like very, very insensitive—although Mr. Z. himself would despise that description, if only because "insensitive" is now such a PC shibboleth. Actually, though, it is in the very passion of his objection to terms like "insensitive," "racist," and "the N-word" that his real problem lies. Like many other post-Limbaugh hosts, John Ziegler seems unable to differentiate between (1) cowardly, hypocritical acquiescence to the tyranny of Political Correctness and (2) judicious, compassionate caution about using words that cause pain to large groups of human beings, especially when there are several less upsetting words that can be used. Even though there is plenty of stuff for reasonable people to dislike about Political Correctness as a dogma, there is also something creepy about the brutal, self-righteous glee with which Mr. Z. and other conservative hosts defy all PC conventions. If it causes you real pain to hear or see something, and I make it a point to inflict that thing on you merely because I object to your reasons for finding it painful, then there's something wrong with my sense of proportion, or my recognition of your basic humanity, or both."

  3. Matthew Says:

    Full article here: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2005/04/host/3812/1/

  4. Xynzee Says:

    @Dryden: to extrapolate the doorman scenario isn't the inclusivity at all costs being exclusive?

    Taking Gallegher, I'd forgotten abt "sledge-omatic". But I still remember his big v little, because little is twice as big as big.

    I think the difference say a Bruce, Hackett*, Pryor and Carlin and a backwards cap fratboy swearing is that they play with words/language to challenge our thinking about words/language, and how it's used. I think Dryden's, spot on about the bafflement they're expressing about the absurdity of the situation. Your avg fratboy says bitch because he can't see beyond his box.

    Though I'd like to add Cosby to that list. While most of his language is fairly G to PG, his concepts are anything but.

    *see Hackett's schtick on why the word hand is worse than the word ass.

  5. ladiesbane Says:

    I'll save my analysis of comedy for tomorrow, when I'm not whupped, but first, a question: what in the world makes you think 90% of the audience finds it sarcastic, and only 2% is laughing in straightforward agreement that more brown people should go to jail, hur-hur-hur?

    As a die-hard feminist progressive who enjoys rotten humor, by and large, I'm just wondering if those numbers don't reflect your hope more than they represent your audience. An honest question.

  6. Dillon Says:

    Politically incorrect jokes are just fine with me as long as they are actually clever or insightful, not just mean for the sake of being mean. For example:

    "So, if I may be blunt: if Marcus Bachmann was any more of a queen, he would be on British money."

    I hope Marcus makes a few appearances on Michelle's arm during the Republican primaries, because I am going to think of that line and snicker every time I see him.

  7. Nunya Says:

    What's the upside and the downside to having sex with a nine year old?

    The downside is that she gets blood all over your clown costume. The upside is that her little hands make your dick look REALLY BIG.
    —————————————————————–
    What do you call a field full of cows masturbating?

    Beef Stroganoff!
    —————————————————————–
    What do you tell a woman with two black eyes?

    Nothing you haven't told her twice before!

    ——————————————————————
    What's the first thing a woman should do after leaving the battered woman's shelter?

    The goddamn dishes if she knows what's good for her!
    ——————————————————————

    So yeah, lighten the fuck up people. Comedy can be funny without making you a pedophile or a wife beater. Lowbrow sells to the wider audience but the hyper educated could stand to giggle at less than subtle entertainment.

  8. Nunya Says:

    Also… thanks for the old queen joke today… I've used it about 10 times with great success! I also sent 10 new viewers to ginandtacos.

  9. anotherbozo Says:

    Speaking of funny, rent "Public Speaking" if you haven't already seen it. Fran Lebowitz is a wit rather than a comedian, by her (and the film's, directed by Scorcese) definition, though the distinction is pretty fuzzy. She trashes almost everything—including herself— but you sense there's a lot she genuinely cares about (intelligence, reason, quality, culture, respect) and there's always a point of view. Read her old "Metropolitan Life" and "Social Studies" for textbooks on writing comedy–the hardest art form I know–but she's great as standup too. The only difference is she performs in back of a lectern rather than on a stool. And as a film this leaves "Joan Rivers, A Piece of Work" standing at the gate.

    There has to be truth to good comedy, and one truth is that we're all pricks and bastards, selfish bigots who can be very nasty if provoked. Churlish Lebowitz makes herself Exhibit A. There is joy in that admission. We laugh at her, and so many others, because they say what we've thought (however inarticulately) but don't dare express.

    And on the political scene: thank the LORD for Bill Maher! And Ed.

  10. c u n d gulag Says:

    So, a fuckin' Nigger, a Spic, a Chink, an Indian, an Indian with a fuckin' dot on his head, a poor person, a Fag, a Dyke, a Tranny, a Socialist, a Communist, a Liberal, a pregnant woman, and a Rabbi walk into this bar pushing an old lady in a wheelchair carrying a disabled child, and they ask the bartender…

    Sorry, I don't have the punchline.

    But ask any Conservative.
    They'll have a punchline.
    It may not be funny – but they'll have a punchline!

  11. ladiesbane Says:

    See, Nunya, I can't enjoy pedo humor. It's not that I'm offended (or not only that I'm offended, since some things that offend me also make me laugh, at least the first time) it's that I will forever give the sideways glance to anyone who thinks it's funny. No offense. It's not that it makes you a pedophile, it's that it makes you a person who thinks pedophilia can be taken lightly. It's not that there are sacred cows about which we must not joke, it's that it's not funny when we do. I don't mean joking about the perps, as evildoers getting theirs is a win. But if a comic's sensibilities are not clear and up front, you spend your reaction on "did he mean that?" rather than on hahaha. Some folks can make a career out of "is that dude serious?" but it can sometimes lead to faking your own death, or being injured in a wrestling ring. It's not for everyone.

    Some comics are clearly depressives working out their ya-yas in what seems to be court-ordered therapy (and they can be brilliant and bitter, or they can drag like traffic court), but every comic who stands up there is telling you something about himself. I am a cheap laugh, and have had people try to revoke my liberal card as I try to explain that "it's just the phrasing", or "it's just the unexpected twist at the end," or "it's just the incongruity." But some things leave me in the dark, sober and unlaughing.

    Some of my conservative clients send me poorly photoshopped black-people-as-apes pictures, and they think it's hilaaarious. An ex-boyfriend, who used to write "fantasy" pieces about me being sexually assaulted, tortured, and dismembered, wondered what upset me so much, since it was clearly fiction. "Can't you take a joke?" Do you mock developmentally disabled people to your friends who have DD kids or relatives? Would you joke about rape to rape victims? If you would, I wonder why; if you wouldn't, I wonder how you could be sure you're not. It's one thing to jeer at the perps, but would you tell a victim of child sexual abuse that blood is cheaper than Vaseline?

    Chances are good you still draw the line somewhere. But everyone thinks where he draws the line is perfect — anyone who doesn't laugh is a humorless prude, and anyone who laughs at worse is degenerate scum. Funny lines can be written about any topic — ze Germans had a million of 'em, and I'm not kidding — but what you choose to joke about can show us you're funny, or show us your ass.

  12. Sluggo Says:

    Marcus Bachman will make a great First Lady because the White House has plenty of closet space. RIMSHOT!!!

    Sorry. I wanted to tell that joke for two days!

  13. Jeff Says:

    When you live oppression on a daily basis, it's a little more difficult to just kick back and "decide not to be offended". Unfunny and hacky "jokes" like the brilliant shit Nunya just barfed all over my screen exploit power differentials in society to get a belly laugh out of those who are higher up on the social hierarchy and an uncomfortable grimace out of those who are lower.

    If you think comedy comes from punching down the ladder, you're really an unfunny piece of shit.

  14. Teah Baggeur Says:

    Oh c'mon Ed, thanks to the Obama administration, all airport security jokes now *are* rape jokes!

  15. Grumpygradstudent Says:

    There's a phenomenon that I call "selectively offended." It's where someone will be going along, enjoying an ironically-delivered racist stereotype, or a gay joke, or whatever, and then suddenly you stumble on something they find offensive. I'm pretty sure most people have at least one or two of these "no go" areas.

    I don't know how a standup is supposed to handle this, but a regular dude like myself who just enjoys cutting up with friends probably should just be very careful to tailor the comedy to the audience. If you don't know everybody in the vicinity very well, stick to the Seinfeld-esque material.

  16. JMLA Says:

    One time… i DIDNT WEAR A SEATBELT

  17. Gordon Guano Says:

    I've always thought of comedy as being emotional alchemy. It's the philosopher's stone that transmutes pain into beauty. Truth hurts, and so genuine comedy will always have some truth to it. For me, lowbrow and offensive comedy has its place in that it takes the worst that humanity can dish out to itself and says, "See? That wasn't so bad. What else have you got?". Which is not to say that a Bill Cosby or a Jonathan Winters can't lay your heart bare and patch you back up without working blue.

  18. SeaTea Says:

    I'm sort of known in my circle of friends for having a pretty extreme sense of humor, and as being the guy who will "go there" with my humor. Generally we have a pretty damn good time, but occasionally I'll overlook some newcomer and make a joke that's over the line for someone. It's a terrible feeling. The worst part is when you realize that this new person thinks you really meant something you clearly said for shock value. It's a shitty feeling. I have nothing but respect for people who have the courage to get up there and go through that process of boundary-seeking on stage. Necessarily you're going to find yourself a little too far over a boundary from time to time, and dealing with that publicly has got to be difficult.

  19. JohnR Says:

    I don't know art, but I know what I like. There, that's settled. Ah, and Nunya brings out some of the classics! Reminds me of when I was in second grade and we used to spend what seemed like hours after school killing ourselves to Knock-knock, Elephant and Dead-baby jokes, many of which (if I can remember them at my age) I still chuckle over today (What do you get a dead baby for Christmas? A dead puppy. *rimshot*). I go through life knowing that every day I'm almost certainly going to offend some folks just in normal conversation; I don't enjoy that, I'm sorry when it happens, I realize that the fault is likely as much mine as theirs (if not more), but I'm not going to change myself drastically to even reduce the chance that somebody might be offended (What's red and green and goes around really fast? A frog in a blender. What's red and blue and goes around really fast? A moldy frog in a blender – ha! you thought I was going to say "A cub scout in a blender", didn't you!). I just live with it when it happens, apologize when I can, and try to restrain my worse instincts when I don't know my audience. I don't take glee in offending (most) people, and I don't (usually) go out of my way to do it. Seems like basic "How to live in a society" rules to me; I don't demand that others cater to my (sensible and understandable) sensitivities, and I get offended when others demand that I cater to their (ridiculous) sensitivities. Still, I understand that we're all people (ie jerks, to a greater or lesser extent) and we're all unique assortments of loves, hates, fears and desires. And humor. How do you fit five elephants into a Mini? Two in the back, two in the front, and one in the glove compartment. Alternate answer: a blender. What's black and white and red all over? I bet you can come up with at least three answers which are more horrible and offensive (and funny) than anything I could think of..
    Bet at least one involves a blender.

  20. Mackeyser Says:

    As someone who used to seriously consider trying standup (and still does… once the kids move out), both in the Navy and out, I've certainly been known to tell the, shall we say, off color joke or two.

    However, it is safe to say that my perspective changed forever once my wife and I lost a child. Devastating.

    It's not PC to say that every "dead baby" joke physically hurts. It actually does. It really stings. I try not to read until the end, but sometimes they're short. Whole waves of emotions can sometimes come. Chest pains and body aches. And this is 15 years later.

    I personally don't care about offending someone if it means tearing someone's mask off and showing them that Supply Side is a failure or that how they've been treating their Hispanic coworkers is actually racist or something like that.

    But when I used to "talk smak" developed back to a skill in my Navy days to such a finely honed skill that in a moment I'm NOT proud, in a mutual and friendly "smak-off" I made a former Marine who'd served in Iraq actually cry. When you've broken down a combat vet with words after only knowing him for a few days, that's being downright nasty with the word usage and I gave it up right there. I realized that humor had to be more than that.

    I guess it's the same issue I have in the ongoing debate with a friend of mine regarding the merits and development of Rap music (please save any comments on that topic for another blog) and that is specifically the difference between inspirational versus reflective art and their respective places.

    The Message was an important piece early on and was reflective. Reflective is important because artists have to show the people what actually IS before inspiring to what can be. However, once what IS has been established, further reflection becomes exploitative, repetitive and actually inures the audience to what IS such that it abstracts the reality of the current situation in a surrealistic way.

    For Comedy, Lenny Bruce and George Carlin and other early comedians had to reflect and do that uncomfortable work. And like music, since we always move forward a bit, there is always room for some reflective work. But as Ed put out there, beyond the insightful work of a few, it becomes a crutch that's easily exploited. The question then becomes does one do the harder inspirational humor that makes the listener laugh and think and also see the world in a better way (even if the humor itself still adheres to the "source of humor is pain model). Bill Hicks, one of my personal comedy heroes really started to go there in a big way towards the end of his career. I think he saw that there was something…more… and it was possible to get there. Having been in a few comedy clubs, I don't think the typical hack comedian telling dick jokes or "dood, I was so drunk on YAYGERRRR" jokes will be able to get there or even understand why it's worth it to try.

    Presuming all goes well, I hope I get the chance to try.

  21. acer Says:

    Like Randian individualism, nihilistic comedy is a young man's game. It's easy to "go there" when you have no life experience and you're not invested in anything. I'm a huge nerd for Dark Humor, but as I get older, I prefer the emphasis on the Humor.

    Michael O'Donoghue was a dangerous genius. 99% of shock jocks simply haven't earned the right to wash his underwear. Shocking people just to alienate them means about the same thing to me as shitting your pants and imagining that people are walking away because they're intimidated.

    Ed, please, make with the Four Pillars. I love this kind of frog-dissection.

  22. jwm Says:

    I think some people mistake shock value for boundary pushing. Shock value is just an intentionally offensive joke premised on a genuine inversion of commonly held value. The premise of the joke rests on a portrayal of having inverted values, i.e. wife beater jokes. Sometimes this is done with a wink, or irony, sometimes its played straight, and sometimes its just told straight. Some people tell racists jokes because they find humor in how other people don't get the joke.

    Where this kind of humor evolves is when people realize that humor is found anywhere two people look at the same situation with different sets of eyes and have completely different takes, not just at things that are considered offensive or not offensive. Dennis Perrin writes a lot of humor from this basis, and the best of this humor relates an overlooked truth hiding in plain sight, hiding because we can't see it from our perspective, but from another's we can. Most of Perrin's humor is dark, I recall a paragraph in one of his vignette posts where he said something like we are all doomed, some of us just have longer sentences than others. I thought that was a brilliant inversion of our usual way of looking at getting older; if life is a prison sentence to you, then it would make no sense as to why people fight age and much of our culture's love of youth would appear confusing.

    These are not boundaries. No one is pushing any boundaries by making a pedophile joke, or a joke about beating your wife.

    Boundary pushing would mean that you are questioning some assumption. The joke might be considered wrong, but it makes you at least see how your definition of wrong might need tweaking, or could be tweaked.

  23. anotherbozo Says:

    Okay, gang, parse these:
    1. Emo Philips

    I told my wife she looks sexy with black fingernails. Now she thinks I slammed the car door on her hand on purpose.

    I was walking down Fifth Avenue today and I found a wallet, and I was gonna keep it, rather than return it, but I thought: "Well, if I lost a hundred and fifty dollars, how would I feel?" And I realized I would want to be taught a lesson.

    My girlfriend always giggles during sex. No matter what she's reading.

    New York's such a wonderful city. Although I was at the library today. The guy was very rude. I said, "I'd like a card." He says, "You have to prove you're a citizen of New York." So I stabbed him.

    When I was a kid my parents used to tell me, "Emo, don't go near the cellar door!"
    One day when they were away, I went to the door and opened it… and I saw birds and trees…

    When I was a kid, I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realized that the Lord, in his wisdom, doesn't work that way. So I just stole one and asked him to forgive me.

    * The IRS sent back my tax return saying I owed $800. I said, "If you'll notice, I sent a paper clip with my return. Given what you've been paying for things lately, that should more than make up the difference."

    I always wanted a beautiful loving wife and she always wanted to be a citizen.

    A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick boxing.

    Back in high school, my buddies tried to put the make on anything that moved. I told them, "Why limit yourselves?"

    Why be prejudiced against anyone because of their race or nationality or creed… when there're so many real reasons to hate others?

    * You don't appreciate a lot of stuff in school until you get older. Little things like being spanked every day by a middle aged woman: Stuff you pay good money for in later life.

    and then Fran Lebowitz:

    Vegetables are interesting but lack a sense of purpose when unaccompanied by a good cut of meat.

    There is no such thing as inner peace. There is only nervousness or death. Any attempt to prove otherwise constitutes unacceptable behavior.

    The conversational overachiever is someone whose grasp exceeds his reach. This is possible but not attractive.

    Polite conversation is rarely either.

    Original thought is like original sin: both happened before you were born to people you could not have possibly met.

    If you are of the opinion that the contemplation of suicide is sufficient evidence of a poetic nature, do not forget that actions speak louder than words.

    If you're going to America, bring your own food.

    Even when freshly washed and relieved of all obvious confections, children tend to be sticky.

    Being a woman is of special interest only to aspiring male transsexuals. To actual women, it is simply a good excuse not to play football.

    Children are the most desirable opponents at scrabble as they are both easy to beat and fun to cheat.

    Do not, on a rainy day, ask your child what he feels like doing, because I assure you that what he feels like doing, you won't feel like watching.

    Don't bother discussing sex with small children. They rarely have anything to add.

    Educational television should be absolutely forbidden. It can only lead to unreasonable disappointment when your child discovers that the letters of the alphabet do not leap up out of books and dance around with royal-blue chickens.

    In the Soviet Union, capitalism triumphed over communism. In this country, capitalism triumphed over democracy.

    Nature is by and large to be found out of doors, a location where, it cannot be argued, there are never enough comfortable chairs.

    The telephone is a good way to talk to people without having to offer them a drink.

    When you leave New York, you are astonished at how clean the rest of the world is. Clean is not enough.

    You're only as good as your last haircut.

    You can't go around hoping that most people have sterling moral characters. The most you can hope for is that people will pretend that they do.

    Very few people possess true artistic ability. It is therefore both unseemly and unproductive to irritate the situation by making an effort. If you have a burning, restless urge to write or paint, simply eat something sweet and the feeling will pass.

    All God's children are not beautiful. Most of God's children are, in fact, barely presentable.

    Ask your child what he wants for dinner only if he's buying.

    Food is an important part of a balanced diet.

    I must take issue with the term 'a mere child,' for it has been my invariable experience that the company of a mere child is infinitely preferable to that of a mere adult.

    I never took hallucinogenic drugs because I never wanted my consciousness expanded one unnecessary iota.

    I've done the calculation and your chances of winning the lottery are identical whether you play or not.

    If you are a dog and your owner suggests that you wear a sweater, suggest that he wear a tail.

    In real life, I assure you, there is no such thing as algebra.

    Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.

    My favorite animal is steak.

    No animal should ever jump up on the dining-room furniture unless absolutely certain that he can hold his own in the conversation.

    The opposite of talking isn't listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.

    Humility is no substitute for a good personality.

    Remember that as a teenager you are at the last stage of your life when you will be happy to hear that the phone is for you.

  24. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    people tend to like lowbrow, hacky crap

    We're all here reading this blog!

    (I keed!)

  25. ladiesbane Says:

    Marc Maron on Bill Maher tonight — I don't know if it counts as tapping the zeitgeist, but today's NPF was timely, no?

  26. Mike Says:

    Q: How many Wellesley girls does it take to change a lightbulb?

    A: That's Wellesley *women* — and it's not funny.

  27. jeneria Says:

    I know a guy who wants to be a standup comedian. He's a paranoid schizophrenic ex-Marine who never saw combat (he was in the military in the 80's). That's his schtick, too. Literally every "joke" is about being a mentally ill former military guy who never actually saw combat and feels like other veterans don't show him enough respect. Talk about awkward.

  28. Aslan Says:

    Jeneria, I'm guessing that might be a bad idea for a comedy routine. But I could be wrong about this; it could be a smashing success.