Posts Tagged ‘Off the Cuff Humor’

Master Smartass

Master Smartass

This post was originally posted at FRS Daily Journal

People have asked me what’s my style of humor, my sense of humor and how I come up with lines and so-forth. I’m not saying I’m a professional comedian or anything (at least I haven’t gotten paid for being funny, yet) . But I have been able to make people laugh hysterically, intentionally and unintentionally in the past. And I’ve told them simply my sense of humor is off the cuff, I say what’s on my mind when I’m thinking it. Rather than “that sounds funny and use it two weeks later”. To me humor has to be fast and relevant. Example of a bad joke. Cracking jokes about Priests at a football game, is probably not a smart play.

First of all you’re likely to offend a lot of people there and not seem funny, but insulting. Which to me are two different things, but you’re going to get strange looks (or end up wearing someone else’s lunch) like making a Catholic joke at a football game when some half-naked moron runs on to the field during the game and people will look at you like “what does a drunk Priest in Church have to do with the guy who ran on the field”. You’re humor needs to be relevant and needs to make sense. And what I do is, I see myself as an analyst of life, we all are and I make judgements and comment on things that I see whatever is that interests me. If you watch the sitcom MASH or Seinfeld, that’s exactly what they do. Here’s the situation, what you think about it and they would look for the funny side of it.

Alan Alda who played Hawkeye Pierce, my favorite sitcom character of all time. If not in TV in general would be performing surgery and cracking jokes as he’s doing it while saving the patients life. One to relax the people he was working with in that stressful environment, but also to relax himself. “This is the situation and this is what’s funny about it was their approach to comedy”. To give you a personal example, I use to work in customer service, have about twelve years experience of that. And we were surrounded by people, customers mostly for whatever reason, they were nervous or whatever. But would go brain-dead when they would approach you and ask the dumbest questions possible.

No joke when I worked at a movie theater, we had to wear these loud maroon colored red polo shirts. With the name of the movie theater on them, with these corny name tags on them. I’m Joe or Sally or whatever, with your name on them obviously, (what was the first clue). We just got a lot of customers that were either, drunk, high or both or perhaps just had brain surgery, but their doctor actually removed their brain by accident.

Smart answers to dumb questions

Customers would constantly walk up to me and ask, do I work here. And seriously this is no joke, I would always reply with a smart ass answer and I never got in trouble for it. And I would say no, I stole this shirt or I’m a member of the theater fan club.

“Do you sell popcorn?” No we are the only movie theater in America that doesn’t sell popcorn. We sell Chinese food instead, but sorry no chopsticks you have to eat with your hands.

Again true story, one day I’m in a ticket booth, selling tickets, naturally. (If you would guessed I was selling sporting equipment, you would be wrong). And someone asked, me where do you buy tickets, I told them three blocks down the street at the gas station, but if you want your oil changed or need gas, you have to buy it here.

Another person asked what size is the small popcorn. I said small we aren’t trying to fool you with false advertising even though that would be very tempting because of the quality of our customers. “Well what does it look like”? It looks small. Again no joke someone asked how much are free refills, I told them five bucks, but we only take travelers checks. Again this is the situation in front of me and that’s what I was thinking right at that moment.

That’s the style of humor that you get from Kevin Spacey the actor/director/writer, but I would throw in comedian as well. The guy could’ve been a full-time professional comedian if he wanted to. Watch the movies Swimming with The Sharks and Hurley Burley, The Big Kahuna and you’ll see what I mean. I would add Chris Walken and Tom Hanks to that list because their humor is so spontaneous, off the top of their heads, they don’t need scripts or writers. They do that for themselves which is what all great comedians do and is a style of humor I’ve patterned mine behind.


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Madam Smartass

Madam Smartass

This post was originally posted at FRS Daily Journal

I was never a huge fan NBC’s Golden Girls, a sitcom about senior single women sharing a house together. But I did love the Dorothy character played by Bea Arthur because she reminded of my maternal grandmother. Who I believe is where I got my flip off the cuff sense of humor, a wiseass who has very little tolerance for stupid questions. My grandmother was very similar and when my grandfather would say something lets say not real bright, or ask a dumb question, she would nail him for it every time even with company.

So I tried to be more careful how I talked to her unless, I wanted a real good laugh because I knew I could nailed for saying something dumb as well. Sarcasm when done right is the perfect tool to combat stupidity. And people who for whatever reason are having a brain camp at your expense and so what you get to do if you’re up for to the task is show them how dumb they are being and how bad their lack of thinking is at that point.

I’ve been lucky to a certain extent. Because I’ve had jobs in the service industries where I have a lot of experience around people who for whatever reasons aren’t thinking very well. And end up asking questions they should already know the answers to. Or are simply unaware that they know the answer to whatever question they are asking. So when I get a dumb question, I nail the person for it not to make them feel like an idiot. Just to let them know that they just asked a dumb question. And they should’ve put a little more thought into it before asking me that question again.

And when I’m on, I can even get funny response out of the person who I just called out for not being very bright.

For example lets say to make up a character, I tell Joe I’m flying to St. Louis from Washington. I’ve never actually landed in St. Louis, flown over it sure, but for the purpose of this example I’ve flown to St. Louis. And he says “so you are taking a plane?” And I say no Joe I’ve borrowed the wings of a bald eagle and going to fly myself. And Joe says something like “try not to run into any birds. I know how limited you’re flying experience is”. Or something like that.

Sarcasm when done right is a tool to combat stupidity. I prefer to use the term flip or off the cuff. Because sarcasm can be very mean, when you have someone whose overly cynical and whose always looking for the weakness in anything just to put someone down. Sarcasm at its best is a tool to let someone know. “You know what, that’s’ a real dumb question. You should know better and perhaps do and just aren’t thinking very well right now”. By showing that person how dumb they sound at that point.

My definitions of dumb questions are any question asked by someone who already knows the answer to the question they are asking, but not aware of it or someone who should know the answer to the question they are asking. But lacks basic fundamental knowledge and whose just being lazy. And my other definition of a dumb question is a question that has the answer in the question, but who’s simply not aware of that. And I’ll explain what I mean. My example of a dumb question where the person who asking the question should know better, but asks the question anyway.

Lets say you are driving to someone’s friends house for a visit or dinner or whatever. And they call you while you are driving to get an idea when you’ll be over and you say I’m on the road now. And I should be there in that about twenty minutes. And your friend says “you are driving now?” Of course you are driving now you just said you are on the road you told the person last night you are coming over. They know you drive and so-forth.

My other example of a dumb question, the question with the answer in it. I use to work at a movie theater and worked concessions a lot and someone would ask me.

“What size is small”? Well its small obviously or we wouldn’t call it small. And every time I was asked that question I would say well small and I never got in trouble for it. To go to my first example of a dumb question, when I worked at that theater I was always asked do I work there. What else would I be doing there wearing that cheesy maroon shirt and name tag if I didn’t work there.

Again Sarcasm when used effectively is a tool to combat stupidity, “you sure you don’t know the answer to that question”. To let the person know they should’ve put a little more thought into that question. And when sarcasm is misused, it’s the ultimate mental weapon to put people down and to try to make them feel worthless or stupid. So if you do have a quick off the cuff sense of humor, have a conscience as well because you’ll make a lot of people laugh without sounding like an asshole.

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This post was originally posted at The New Democrat

I’ve been asked a lot in my lifetime all thirty-eight years of it by people who know me, but perhaps not very well, people who I’m friendly with. “How do you describe your sense of humor”? Because if I’m friendly with you and we get along and open up with each other, my humor will come out of lot because it is a big form of communication for me. Because I use it to basically let people know how I’m doing and how I’m feeling.

I have a real good friend who I met in high school over twenty years ago. (Damn that makes me feel old!) Who gets the same question, actually her sister asked him that the same question. Actually she asked us together one night when we were hanging out together. And I’m going to give you the same answer as I gave her and my buddy feels the same way. Because we essentially have the same sense of humor. Actually he stole mine, and I’m borrowing someone else’s, but anyway. We both have a low-tolerance for stupidity, stupid questions or people acting stupid. And we use our spontaneous sense of humor to let people know what we think of that.

I posted the video of M*A*S*H in this blog because that show had the same sense of humor. Looking for funny moments in life wherever possible and doing it in the worst circumstances possible. Thousands of miles away from home in a land they perhaps never heard of before the Korean War. And having to try to save as many lives as possible in the heart of this war. When they could’ve been killed at any time, but using that humor to keep their sanity. And joy for life as much as possible as so many people around them lost their lives.

What makes M*A*S*H the best sitcom of all time is the writing and this style of humor. And Alan Alda who in many ways was playing himself when he was playing Captain Dr. Benjamin Hawkeye Pierce the Chief Surgeon of this 4077 M*A*S*H Unit. Unlike a lot of the sitcoms of today that are cookie cutter and use each other’s material. Or lines they picked up from the last hit movie comedy or latest hit comedian. M*A*S*H used their own lines that hadn’t been written before or only heard by very few people. And the humor was based around finding the funniest and stupidest things in a horrible situation. To keep their joy of life alive.

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Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat

As conservative, snobby and Anglo-Saxon waspy as Bill Buckley came off at least came off as, he had a damn quick and good sense of humor. He wasn’t so preppy and full of himself and thought he knew it all about everything that he couldn’t take a joke and fire one back right on target and get a reaction and even laugh out of the people he was talking to. And I think that comes off in this quick little interview between two of the best wisecrack artists who ever lived in Woody Allen and Bill Buckley.
Metrazol Electricity: Woody Allen and William Buckley

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