Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

On the rubber fowl beat

November 22, 2019

In my writing, it goes back a dozen years to a Language Log posting on rubber ducky, with further duck notes over the years; notable from the outset were items like the vinyl rubber ducky, a rubber ducky made of vinyl. And then today Bob Eckstein burst onto Facebook with a new Christmas item from the Archie McPhee company, a rubber chicken Christmas ornament — yes, a glass rubber chicken.

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Deux clouseauismes

August 11, 2019

Morning names from early this past week: fondly remembered quotations from Peter Sellars’s Inspector Clouseau character in The Pink Panther (1963) and the series of movies following it. Both involve a bold effort by Clouseau to fix or remedy some situation, resulting of course in devastation — and clueless insouciance on the inspector’s part.

Besides the absurd situations, there’s Sellars’s deft timing and his control of the physical comedy, and, delicious cherry on top: his way-eccentric Clouseau-franglais syntax and phonetics (with pronunciation governed largely by a rigid constraint against back vowels, especially rounded back vowels, though even [ʌ] is affected, as in monkey > minkey). The transcripts below are in standard English orthography, so you should listen to the film clips.

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The opossum joke

July 30, 2019

(I posted a version of this under the heading “The opossum” on July 30th, but by a WordPress glitch the link to that posting was later re-directed to the next posting in line, “Ralph at the Port Authority” (here), so that my earlier posting disappeared completely. I lamented this loss on Facebook, and eventually archivist and quote investigator Garson O’Toole magicked up a Google Cache version of the text for me. Thanks to Garson, here’s a reconstituted version.)

(Totally baffled addendum. WordPress has published this revised posting with the date 7/30, though it was actually posted on 8/1.)

A very sweet One Big Happy from 6/30: Ruthie and her grandfather:

(#1)

A granddad joke — well, actually, two of them in sequence, the first sledgehammer simple (a classic dad joke), the second delightfully subtle (a meta-joke in which the audience response becomes a crucial part of the joke).

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Avocado Chronicles: 3 the chemical formula

July 14, 2019

Selling avocados in Santo Domingo DR:

(#1)

H2O KT is a play on Sp. aguacate ‘avocado’, treating it as:

the chemical formula H2O for agua ‘water’ + ca, the letter K /ka/, + te, the letter T /te/

that is, as la formula química del aguacate ‘the chemical formula for the avocado’. The joke isn’t quite perfect: K is indeed a symbol for a chemical element, potassium, but there’s no element T (though there is Te, the metalloid tellurium). (There is a compound potassium telluride, K2Te, but I don’t know how it interacts with water.)

The joke will lead us to the demotivational industry (with a penguin interlude); to snark and Mad magazine; to color blindness; to egg and avocado dishes; and to a sexually suggestive cartoon and its gender ideology.

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Hard Tundra

March 4, 2019

Adventures in cross-dialect understanding in the One Big Happy strips of 2/1 and 2/2, both featuring Ruthie and Joe’s playmate James:

(#1)

(#2)

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Piñata under the gun

October 15, 2018

(Bonus content: a news bulletin for penises, with two items.)

Today’s Wayno/Piraro combo:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page.)

Simultaneously a boy about to bash a rainbow donkey piñata with a bat — a baseball bat, rather than the usual  piñata-specific stick or bat (illustrated below) — and a military officer about to execute a prisoner by firing squad. So both in the everyday world and in a metaphorical world systematically mapped onto the everyday world.

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A transatlantic exercise in cartoon understanding

September 21, 2018

To fully appreciate this cartoon (passed on to me on Facebook), you need to have two pieces of pop-cultural knowledge, one originally American, one originally British (though it is the way of such things to cross the Atlantic culturally):

(#1)

You need, of course, to recognize — American cultural knowledge — that this is a baseball diamond, with a game in progress, and that there’s an object on first base. Then — further American cultural knowledge — you need to recognize the (note: declarative, not interrogative) sentence Who’s on first as the first move in one of the greatest America comedy routines ever. Then — British cultural knowledge — you need to recognize the thing on first base and connect it to the fact that Who’s on first, both of them elements from one of the most popular British tv shows ever.

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Crude japery

May 24, 2018

(If the image and text in #1 make you uneasy, pass on to something else. Otherwise there’s only coarse humor here, of the sort that delights middle-schoolers.)

From Aric Olnes on Facebook yesterday, this bit of crude foolishness, to which Aric added the title “Get Lei’d!”:


(#1) Marilyn Monroe + oink (of a pig) = Marilyn Monroink (the hula-dancing pig)

Dancing on what appears to be a slab of Spam (the canned meat product made mostly from ham), from a roll of the stuff. Spam from pig meat, boned and processed.

Providing an opening for coarse sexual word play on bone and roll (in a context where sexual pig and pork lurk).

Of course, I wondered where the image and text came from, who composed them. Searching took me to a larger and much more complex page of crude japery (an ad for “Dickman’s Boned Rolled Pig: Institutional Meat Food”, from Dickman Rendering & Creaming Inc.), on Reddit, where it came from Imgur (without attribution, of course). I then found some of the components of the joke ad, and eventually the identity of its creator, the cheerfully crude graphic artist Cris Shapan.

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bunny ears

May 21, 2018

It started with a candid photo of people at a social gathering, with one person making a V hand gesture behind the head of the person next to them, much as in this photo of pro tennis players:

(#1) Swiss jock jokery:  Stan Wawrinka doing the ‘bunny ears’ gesture behind Roger Federer

Bunny-earing someone is a prank (NOAD on the noun prank: ‘a practical joke or mischievous act’), pranks being a very culture-specific form of play + humor that deserve analytic attention that I’m not able to provide, but will just take as a cultural given here.

To come: a bit of the history of bunny-earing; senses of the expression bunny ears (illustrating (mostly metaphorical) sense developments in many directions); and uses of the V hand gesture (illustrating symbolic functions of many different kinds; the gesture itself is “just stuff”, without intrinsic meaning, which can be exploited for many different symbolic purposes). The act, the meanings of the linguistic expression for the act, the cultural significances (or “social meanings”) of the act.

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Syntax Wars: The Saga Continues

May 5, 2018

On the blog of http://www.linguisten.de (“the free and open forums on linguistics, language, and languages and the study thereof … operated by and for people interested in linguistics”), for Star Wars Day, 5/4 (May the Force), the playful “Syntax Wars: The Saga Continues”:

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