Friday, March 18, 2005

Oh, My Aching Groin!

A few weeks ago, Lillet and I were browsing a new vintage store in our neighborhood. I knew it was a "vintage" store and not a thrift store because t-shirts advertising one's purported membership in the Valpariso 4H club were priced at $12. (If any of you folks in the middle want to send your crap our way, I'm sure we can work out some sort of consignment deal. But please, no trucker caps. That's so 2002.)

The other way I could tell it was a vintage store is that this yellowed 150pp paperback had originally been $1.25 and was now $3.50. I must have grumbled, because Lillet, without even looking up from the book she was perusing on astrology or Christian eschatology or alchemy or sex but most likely all four, said, "Just get it; you know you're going to, anyway." So I found myself the owner of a vintage copy of Zingers from the Hollywood Squares.

I admit to real fascination with this strange cultural moment, one in which Henny Youngman and Erica Jong, Black Sabbath and the King Family Singers all commingled. But I was surprised to learn in reading these zingers the extent to which the ontogeny of humor recapitulates its phylogeny. All of these jokes are naively smarmy, like an eight year-old boy putting a couple of grapefruits under his shirt to get a laugh. For the Squares, just an utterance of words like "motel" and "stewardess" is good for a laugh (and is code for transgressive sex).
Can an airline stewardess get pregnant and remain a stewardess?
PAUL LYNDE: Yes. After a cigarette and a little nap.

According to Dear Abby, is it considered in good taste for a couple to frame their marriage certificate and hang it on the wall?
CHARLIE WEAVER: No. They might forget it when they check out.
Apparently, this worked even with non-sequiturs.
According to the Cosmo Girl's Guide to the New Etiquette, it is "the most common cause of tooth loss among adults." What is it?
PAUL LYNDE: Adultery.
But there is one sub-genre of joke I just don't get at all. When was it, why was it, that hernias were funny? In 150 pages we are treated to no fewer than six hernia jokes.
There's an old slang expression people use. They say: "That man is in double harness." What does that mean?
JAN MURRAY: His hernia is worse.

In mythology, how did that legendary strong man, Hercules, finally die?
CHARLIE WEAVER: A double hernia.

According to Robert Redford, man's greatest weakness can be summed up in one word. What word?

After a 3-hour-and-15-minute battle, Frankie Laine recently got himself one that weighed 310 pounds. Just what did Frankie get himself?
JAN MURRAY: A hernia.

In 1953, the world's greatest weight lifter, Paul Anderson, lifted 6,000 pounds. What did he get for it?
PAUL LYNDE: The world's biggest hernia.

In the popular book and movie, The Andromeda Strain, what is the Andromeda Strain?
JAN MURRAY: It's a Greek hernia.
Oh, that Jan Murray!

My theory of the hernia joke is that it is as far as anyone would dare go towards zinging an acknowledgment of male sexuality. No one zung female genitalia any more than they would zing male genitalia, but women have, well, tits. And tits are hilarious.
Are watermelons popular in Italy?
CHARLIE WEAVER: Well, Sophia's a big star there.


Blogger Donkey Patrol said...

"But I was surprised to learn in reading these zingers the extent to which the ontogeny of humor recapitulates its phylogeny"

That's a hell of a sentence, Trae.

I just took the GRE today and nowhere in 3 hours did a see a sentence comparable to this one, much less the question of how to exegete it properly. Does everyone reading this blog talk like this in real life? That's straight up vintage, circa 1834 Yale English Reader. I picked that one up at Salvo, though.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Donkey Patrol said...

And also, are we going to go out and get some martini's when I'm in New York or not, people? Come on!

5:05 PM  
Blogger Lillet Langtry said...

Only if you agree to meet us in our favorite French bistro and eat escargots!! ;)

10:00 PM  
Blogger Donkey Patrol said...

I can agree to your French Bistro on 2 conditions:
1) That it be in a public place so you can't put smack in my snails and make me die. And if I die, it has to be in a place where there are at least a few Republicans who care and would mourn the passing of ineffable greatness. That's one thing and
2) Does this so called French Bistro serve beer, have good pretzels, let me smoke cigars, or have good Brie? If at least half of these qualifying necessities are present at this bistro, I am game.
3) Is there going to be a guy in a black and white striped shirt, playing the violin and smoking cigarettes while wearing a beret? If so, I'm not in.

And just FMyI, when does rush hour start in the city?

9:44 AM  
Blogger Lillet Langtry said...

IT will definitely be in a public place, just in case you are Randall Terry in disguise. We were thinking somewhere in Chelsea, as that area has very heavy foot traffic and excellent people watching!

We can promise you excellent beer and artisanal cheeses, but pretzels are not French and we do not know of any Canadian cafes with a dollar menu -- they would also be unlikely to serve beer.

Since the RNC there are few, if any Republicans below 23rd street -- and given the current political climate, it would seem that there are no extant "caring Republicans" in NYC or elsewhere -- although we could disguise you as some kind of budget cut, preferably one that harms the poor.

We will buy your drinks on the condition you wear pants that are neither pleated or khaki! Are you on?

Rush hour starts at 5is, but you can't catch a cab on the street between 4 - 5 pm, cause that's when the taxis change shifts. Little secret for you!!

A bientot


10:39 AM  
Blogger Donkey Patrol said...

Clearly you're going to try to get me drunk and then get me to stand out in Chelsea and renounce my Conservative ideals. Well this is what I say to the gauntlet that you have thrown my way:

1) I'm willing to take that chance!

2) I can't promise the I won't wear day to day wardrobe is made up of whatever clothes are least dirty in my house. If it so happens that khakis are the cleanest pants I have on the road, I'm going to have to wear them. But pleats? Come on now give me some credit.

3)Instead of disguising me as a budget cut, how about as personal responsibility and/or accountability? NO ONE will recognize me in New York that way

4) Since I've clearly been called out on getting pretzels at the dollar store, I freely admit I've also had coffee from the very SAME dollar store. It was horrible, so I wrote the company. You'll never guess what I found out...the company was Canadian!! Go figure.

5) How far away is Chelsea from the lower east side? That's where my hotel is.

6) Thanks for the rush hour tip. I'll see you all for some fun conversation!

4:14 PM  
Blogger uscu2 said...

Almost makes me wish I was going to be in Brooklyn around the same time. Unfortunately I will be in small town Western, PA. Fortuantely for Lillet and Trey, you will get my more verbose (and more intelligent) yet slightly less obnoxiously opinionated friend Andrew. Tilt one back for me.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Kender said...

Just a note...trey or lillet, one of you at least, is the only suscriber I have for whatever system it is that you two use to pop in and check my blog...and which ever one of "youse" (little NYspeak for ya there) checked it last you were the 3000th hit...thanks.

And that one sentence that was commented on at the top.....priceless.

12:54 PM  
Blogger Donkey Patrol said...

What's totebaggery?

9:35 PM  

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