Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's Time For Something Meaningful

Yes, friends, it is time for something meaningful. But don't look my way for it. I write crap. When not musing about important topics like how a staple got in my salad at dinner, or how to go back in time and deliver a stupendous comeback to that girl from my Freshman Biology class* at East Stroudsburg, I sometimes try to write meaningful things. But you know what? It's crap. It's time for somebody else to write something meaningful.

So, without further preamble or  exegenesis, exegenetics, exegesis, or some other nonsense, let me get on with this particular nonsense.

I was Tweeting about #boringmusicals today, and it was fun. The object was to take the name of a musical theater show and twist it somehow to come up with a name which would indicate that it was boring. As I read other peoples' tweets, something struck me which didn't surprise me in the least. There are a lot of people who think they are funny, but who are not. Let's take some examples of funny and not funny tweets on this topic (you can look up the link to uncover the identities of these folks).

  • Funny:
    • Oh, Glaucoma!
    • Jesus Christ. Average Guy!
    • A Post Office Line
These are funny. Why? Because the writers get it! They understand the premise of the bit and they know how to turn a phrase brilliantly. Their titles indicate a boring show, but they are also funny because of the puns and translocations of words. The object is to write a title which indicates BORING, not cute, not a simple play on words, not just different. So they're funny and they get an A+ for the effort.
  • NOT Funny (and many of them are from the same Twitterer):
    • Mats
    • 42nd Tweet
    • Man of la Mangia
    • Paid
    • Miss Bygone
    • Guys and Barbie Dolls
    • Annie Get Your Water Pistol (same person for previous three examples - for pity's sake - STOP, Already!)
    • Rocky Balboa Picture Show
Ok, these all suck. But why? If you have even a Troy Ounce of funny in you, then you know why; because they suck. The writers don't get the gag. I used to see this in improv stuff all the time, back when I was involved in certain theater performance that required lots and lots of improvisational comedy. Some people just aren't funny. It's painful and embarrassing  to watch them. But they think they're funny, like the stiffs in the above examples. And you can look for yourselves and see that there were far more bad examples than good ones. 

Seriously, look at those up there. Do you see one that indicates a boring musical? No, not one. I see people trying to make a play on words, doing translocations, insertions, etc. But not one damn boring title!

Mats? I don't even get that one! Paid? WTF?!!! Is that supposed to be a take on Rent? If so, it sucks double! Writer didn't get premise of joke, and came up with a shitty title to top it off. If you're going to change the word rent to something that like its opposite, then for god sakes, change it to Buy

So (panting breathlessly from the effort and rise in blood pressure), what's my point? How decent of you to ask. My point is that there are lots of people who delude themselves when it comes to their abilities, and that they are not afraid to show it. Think about those unfortunate souls who go on American Idol - the ones who should have had, but never did have, someone tell them that they couldn't sing. That they sucked. That they should not ever sing again. Or hum, or speak, or even exhale loudly. They were allowed to keep themselves living in a fantasy world in which they could sing. That's a damn shame. 

In the case of #boringmusicals, the Twitter posters thought they could be funny. No one ever told them that they lacked even the basic understanding of a joke. Probably these are the same people who laugh when Pauly Shore says...well...anything. You know them. You might be one of them. 

If you are a person who is not funny, you most likely know it and simply don't try to be funny. I salute you. On the other hand, if you think you're funny, but really aren't, then you probably won't realize that I'm talking about you. You will be sitting there, reading this, going, "Yeah! The Defiant Marshmallow is soooo right. Some people just aren't funny. Those stupid idiots!" To you, I barf up my shoelaces on your Count Chocula. 

People need to know their strengths, and weaknesses. One can appreciate the Marx Brothers without being able to tell a joke. Just because Twitter lets you post anything that pops into your brain, doesn't mean you have to. So do us all a favor and think twice before trying to be funny. Or as many times as you need to. Really. Take your time, it's not like the world is going to end tomorrow** and you have to get that Tweet in right now. 

I thank you. The world thanks you. Twitter tha--...

...never mind, Twitter doesn't give a shit. 

Below this line is one NSFW verbal exchange, but it explains the first asterisk.

*  October, 1979. A boy; me. And a girl; let's call her Joy (because that was her real name and I couldn't think of any name more appropriate for this story than Joy). She'd been sitting next to me in BIO 101 for the first three weeks of the semester. Every day, after class, we'd walk back to our dorms together, making small talk. We always passed by hers first. One day, she invites me up (remember, I am incredibly naive, and that was 10X worse when I was 18 years old). We go to her dorm room. It's unoccupied by roommates. She gets out a mirror, puts it on the table, spreads some fine, white powder on it, gets out a small straw and razor blade and cuts lines of powder. 

I instantly go from George Hamilton Tan to Edward Cullen white. Fourteen gallons of sweat drop from my body all at once. Even my ass crack sweats. My heart breaks out of my chest, caroms off of the dresser, leaps from the 6th floor window of Hawthorn Hall, and runs all the way to the Delaware Water Gap before plunging itself into the freezing river.

Joy offers me the straw. I indicate my desire to abstain by peeing myself. She does three lines. She comes over to the bed where I am drowning and sits next to me, placing one hand on what used to be my thigh, but is now a palsied mass of muscle. Then she hits me with a pickup line that even I could understand.

Joy: "What f*cks like a tiger and winks?"
Me (squeaking): "I don't know. What?"
Joy: (Winks at me)

The next week, the campus newspaper had a story in it about a strange sound that was heard and felt all over campus and in the adjacent town. People described it as a "loud boom". That's exactly right. I set the Land Speed Record for Human Locomotion going out of that dorm - 756 mph - and didn't look back. Made it to my room in under a half second. Then I changed my underwear.

**  May 21, 2011  October 21, 2011. I know that this was a huge cheap shot, but come on. Totally worth it.


  1. Great post! Sometimes I'm funny, sometimes I'm one of those Twitter idiots. I'm ok with that.

    It was a cheap shot, but go for it, I've been giving cheap shots for the last week!

  2. Thanks Raven. Sometimes a cheap shot is really justified and deserved.

  3. Excellent blasting of unfunny folks and Joy, coked-up dorm tiger.

  4. Whoa. How did I miss this post? I once went to a party (in my 20s) to some stranger's place with a girl and then suddenly there were only six people there because everyone bolted when some freakish guy brought out his cocaine AND A GUN. Meanwhile I was in the kitchen frying eggs when this all went down. I still remember the feeling when every cell in your body is screaming FLIGHT yet the exterior attempts to appear calm. I peeled rubber a few minutes later.
    P.S. I can be funny but I'm sort of a dolt too so I suspect I'm one of those idiots on twitter too.

  5. @dbs: Coke and a gun: gee, what could possibly go wrong?

    I suspect you are NOT one of those idiots. I can probably prove it too!

  6. Okay I admit I found the Twits Twittah's funny. I was the thorn in my English teachers side.

  7. I am going to be singing Oh, Glaucoma for the next three weeks. And making up my own ridiculous lyrics. I'm terribly excited at the prospect. Maybe I'll stage my own version of Oh, Glaucoma in my backyard, film it, and edit it on iMovie.


    P.S. I feel like Mats is a play off of Cats. A terrible, terrible play...but a play nonetheless.

    P.P.S. I really want to see a line of disgruntled postal workers singing "One."

    P.P.P.S. I've never seen cocaine. I've never even seen Ecstasy. I'VE NEVER EVEN SEEN VALIUM. I can't be a writer without some horrible brush with substance abuse, right? Does Mike's Hard Lemonade count?


    P.P.P.P.P.S. Christ. I'm one of those unfunny people you're talking about.

    I need a drink.