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Monday, January 3, 2011

Now THAT is funny. New Year Old Jokes Edition.

When I was in the ninth grade I bought a copy of David Letterman's Book of Top Ten Lists. At the time, I thought it was the funniest thing I had ever read. I think what enamored me about it the most was that it brought to light the idea that a "joke" could have multiple punch lines that could all work and be funny in their own way. That same year, while pretending to pay attention in class, I took a stab at writing my own "Top Ten Things about Mr. Bernier’s Chemistry Class." I don’t remember what the punch lines were - I think mostly they were in-jokes about Brian burning down the lab and Kimmy asking too many stupid questions. I do remember that the number one item on the list read simply: Schrodinger! ... Why didn’t I have more friends in high school? Wait! Don’t answer that.

I think this notion of one alley to an infinite number of oops is why I love Twitter BNPGs so much. Someone cooks up a basic framework for a joke then we all get to riff on that joke like so many jazz musicians. Not every tweet is a winner (my personal hit rate is likely hanging out at the 20% range) but they are always well intended and when they do work it is a truly beautiful thing. Keep up the good work gang, the creative commons of funny that is brewing amongst us is a wonderfully remarkable thing. And because there’s a dawn of a new year going on these days, I’ll raise my champagne glass and cheers to many #shakespearesitcom, #fakefamilyfeud, and #gabesexytalks to come.

On with the funny links! This week some of my favorite lists from McSweeney‘s:

Pickup Lines - The First Drafts
- Your father must have been a thief. I don't know, you just have the look of someone who was raised by criminals.
- If I could rearrange the alphabet, I probably wouldn't. Can you imagine how much that would screw with everybody?
- Are you from Tennessee? I hate people from Tennessee.
Full List

Titles of Sermons to Which Congregants Might Actually Pay Attention
- "The Ten Commandments—Loopholes And Safe Harbors: The Technicalities You've Never Thought Of"
- "Our God Is a Bearded God"
- "Hey, What Is the Deal With Transubstantiation? I Mean, Am I Right, People? That Guy Knows What I'm Sayin'"
Full List

Thirteen Writing Prompts
- 1. Write a scene showing a man and a woman arguing over the man's friendship with a former girlfriend. Do not mention the girlfriend, the man, the woman, or the argument.
- 5. A wasp called the tarantula hawk reproduces by paralyzing tarantulas and laying its eggs into their bodies. When the larvae hatch, they devour the still living spider from the inside out. Isn't that fucked up? Write a short story about how fucked up that is.
- 8. A husband and wife are meeting in a restaurant to finalize the terms of their impending divorce. Write the scene from the point of view of a busboy snorting cocaine in the restroom.
Full List


  1. McSweeney's lists may be my favorite thing in the world.

  2. Busboys can afford cocaine?