Tag Archives: jokes

Love, Actually, actually is all around

My wife and I have this annual holiday tradition. Every year, she watches Love, Actually on TV, and each time, about halfway through the movie, I come downstairs and start making snarky comments and bad jokes, to the point where nobody’s having any fun at all by the end of the film. Jeez, when I say it like that, I sound like a huge dick. And, I don’t know, I’m not that big of a dick.


But Love, Actually, come on, in which darkest timeline have I wound up where this movie has taken on such celebrated significance? I saw it in the theaters with my wife while we were still dating, and at the time, yeah, I did nice things like that, went to the movies to see romantic comedies. We saw Two Weeks Notice, a bunch of other mostly Hugh Grant movies. As we exited the nine o’clock showing of Love, Actually that night, all I thought was, well, I guess that’s as bad as it’s going to get.

But no, she started watching it the next year, and the year after that. Each Christmas, the TV stations started playing it more and more. Every time I’d hear a significant buzz, groups of people waiting for the subway, talking about how much they love Love, Actually, stuff like, “Oh my God, I just love that movie. It’s seriously probably my favorite movie of all time. Love, love, love, Love, Actually.”

Last night was the 2013 viewing, and I caught more of the movie than I usually do, to the point where some of the stories didn’t ring any bells in my memory. Obviously I’ll never be able to forget the scene where Hugh Grant, acting as Prime Minister of the UK, gives President Billy-Bob Thornton some ridiculous speech about Britain being a small but proud nation, but other subplots, like the one about the office romance hindered due to that lady’s disabled brother, it was as if they’d been blocked from my memory entirely.

Which was probably for the best. If only I had stayed away this year. But I can’t help myself. I hear that ongoing Mariah Carey chorus and I just have to march in and start poking fun. And asking lots of questions. Like, is Liam Neeson that kid’s dad? I mean, I know the mom died, right, but do they address whether or not he’s the kid’s biological father?

To me, it seems as if he has to be the step-dad, like maybe he married this single-mother, and after a while she died, and he’s left in charge with this little kid who he really doesn’t have that strong of a connection with. Because their relationship is so over the top. “You’re in love? Well go get her! Run after her! Right past Mr. Bean, through airport security, go get ‘em!” If that were a real dad, he’d be like, “Hey, do me a favor, all right? Just stop talking for a second. Please. Just one second. I’m incredibly depressed around the holidays, ever since your mother died, it’s just me and you. Stop talking about your little kid girlfriend for a minute, please.”

And you talk about love, right? Half of the stories have nothing to do with love. What about the one where the guy falls in love with his best friend’s wife? First of all, I’m watching this movie and I’m like, who the hell is this guy? Why does he look so familiar? Then it hits me, he’s the actor who plays Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead. And again, I wish I had never watched it this year, because now when I watch my favorite TV show, I’m not going to be able to shake the image of this guy wearing an oversized sweater holding up signs telling his friend’s wife not to make a sound so he can steal a kiss while he’s not paying attention. I’m going to be too focused on scrutinizing his fake American accent. Seriously, how do people do that? If I tried to talk in a British accent, best case scenario, everybody in earshot would mercilessly make fun of me, worst case scenario, I’d get punched, hard.

Or what about the story where the guy is cheating on his wife? I’m not trying to make a moral argument or anything, you know, because a story about a guy cheating on his wife, in a romance movie, you don’t really need some guy like me pointing out how out of place it is. But from a logistical standpoint, it really bothers me. Like, he buys a necklace for his mistress, OK. Why don’t you go shopping for jewelry like on the way home from work or something? Why insist on taking your whole family to the mall, and then making the worst attempt ever to sneak out of their sight for a second so you can buy a necklace? Isn’t that a little reckless? It’s stupid, is what it is. And then, you’re not into your wife, fine, but maybe buy her something a little nicer than a CD to at least pretend that you give a fuck about her not finding out. Doesn’t she even say something earlier, like, “Is it just sex? Or is it sex and love?”

What’s the message here, that true love is all about perspective? That regardless of how bad a situation appears from the outside, somebody might be caught up in true love? That actually sounds kind of legit. Holy shit, did I just figure it out?

I could go on all day, but I’m clearly in the minority here. Love, Actually actually looks like it’s here to stay, and for the long haul too. I can just picture myself as an old man, this movie’s going to come on and I’m going to force myself to sit there and provide asinine commentary, pitching the same lame Love, Actually jokes. Remember when I said before that I wasn’t that big of a dick? I guess I can be kind of dickish, but only when Love, Actually is on. I don’t know, it just brings out the worst in me. It’s a good thing that all of the follow-up imitation ensemble movies always bomb at the box office, like He’s Just Not That Into You, and I think there’s a Valentine’s Day one also, the sister from Seventh Heaven is in it. OK, I’m done. I’m going to be sick. Wait, no, OK, I held it in. Wait, it’s coming back. Yeah, I’m definitely going to be sick. Yep, I did it, I threw up. Gross.

Saying the same thing over and over and over

I’ve gotten to a weird point here. I’ll sit down to write a couple of these essays every day. Usually I just kind of set my mind to shuffle, like I’ll to clear out all of the excess chatter until something close to an idea emerges, and then I just barrel through. But lately I’ve found myself questioning the whole process. Namely, every time I have a good idea, I think to myself, have I already done something like this before?

I don’t want to keep saying the same thing over and over again. I don’t want to be that guy that keeps repeating the same jokes. But sometimes, I don’t know. Sometimes the basis for one of these blog posts will be something out of real life. And here’s where it gets tricky, because in real life I’m constantly making the same jokes and saying the same things over and over again.

It’s kind of lame, yeah, it totally is. But if I think of a joke, a good joke, a bad joke, whatever, something that I find even slightly amusing, I’ll want to share it. Maybe that’s fine, maybe that sucks for whoever I happen to be around, I can’t really tell. But I know that, for example, at work, if I come up with something funny, I’ll try it out on one person. If I get a good response, or any response at all, I’ll feel better about it, but I’m not satisfied. What if that person was just being polite? What if that person was looking for a quick way out of the interaction, and decided that a quick laugh would be just the trick to stroke my sense of self-satisfaction long enough to make an exit?

So I’ll say it to the first person, and then I’ll do it again. And then if I deem the joke or the story or the prank or whatever a success, then I know I’m in a good spot. Like I know at work, where I work with like thirty or forty other people, that that’s a lot of potential for some solid joking around. And so I’ll say it to one person, and then two people, and then five. And then after that I’ll have the joke down, like it’s in my head. And maybe it’ll be a situational joke. But situations will arise and, because the joke is so in my head, so at the tip of my tongue, I’ll be finding ever more ways to lay it on.

And after ten, fifteen times, I start to have doubts, specifically, how many times have I told this joke, and to who?* After a while, maybe the laughs will die down. Or maybe they won’t die down, but I’ll detect something, a fakeness to the laughter, a willingness to leave abruptly after I’ve told the joke. Or maybe somebody won’t think it’s funny at all, and I’ll ask them, “I’m sorry, have I told you this already?”

And maybe they’ll laugh and say, “Yes, Rob, you’ve already told me this.” In which case, we can both have a laugh at the joke’s expense, at its overuse. And maybe that’ll be a sign that I should pull back on that joke, maybe put it on pause for a little bit, save it for times when I’m only around certain people who I’m positive haven’t heard it before. And I should probably make sure that they’re not friends with people who I’ve told the joke to, just in case they’re both talking one day, and one of them says to the other, “Hey, Rob told me this great joke the other day,” and they’ll share it and the other person will be like, “No way. Rob said the same thing to me weeks ago. Jesus, that guy really needs to come up with some original material.”

If things ever get out of hand, like say I tell two different people the same joke, two times each, obviously everybody will think me a one-trick horse, like I’m just starved for material, totally full of myself, overestimating my joke and storytelling abilities. In this case, to kind of turn things around, I’ll start really upping the joke, telling it even more times, at a much greater frequency and intensity. I’ll do it to the point where I’ll totally know that other people have heard it. And I’ll start telling it in a way as to catch the people off guard, like I’ll be really serious about something, and I’ll lure them in with my sense of sincerity, only to reveal that I’m going about the same old joke, the same old same old. At which case I’ll start fake laughing, over and over again, like I’m crazy.

What I’ve done here, see, it’s not about the joke anymore. I’ve taken an overused joke and wrapped it up into one big joke, the joke being the multiple repetitions of the same joke. Get it? Isn’t that funny? Are you laughing? You’re totally laughing. I get it. I don’t mess around here. What was I talking about? Something about repetition. Something about worrying about writing about the same stuff over and over again. But, whatever, this was somewhat original, writing about worrying about repeating myself. I could probably write about this a few more times also, like a month from now, and then three months from now, and then I could wrap all of those up. Yeah, it’s funny, come on, maybe not funny, but it’s something. And if you’re reading this sentence, you read it, right? The whole thing? I can’t imagine anybody coming to this page and only reading the last sentence.

*Microsoft Word, in sentences like this, always tells me to write whom, and while it’s probably grammatically correct, I’ve never heard anybody say “whom” in real life**, nobody I’d ever want to hang out with anyway.

**Except for the Metallica classic, “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” of course.

Go ahead and try not to laugh

I love it when I make a bad joke but somebody laughs anyway. It’s like when you go to a restaurant and you don’t enjoy your meal at all, but you don’t say anything, because that’s not something that you normally do, but the waiter can totally tell, he can see just by the look on your face, he knows because he knows the menu, and he knew that you probably shouldn’t have ordered that dish in the first place, but he didn’t object, and why would he? It’s not in his job description to discourage people from ordering food. But still, he feels bad, and he wants a tip, so he knocks it off the bill. The food sucked, but you still ate, so you’re not hungry anymore, and it was free.

All the time I’m thinking of stupid jokes to say, especially when I’m around other people, but a lot of the time I get so excited by the idea of me telling a joke or trying to be funny that I’ll start laughing to myself even before I’ve opened my mouth. It’s terrible, because I’ve drawn attention to myself. And I’ll calm myself down to the point where I think I can give it another try, but usually, especially if it’s a really funny joke, maybe twenty-five percent of the way through I’ll start laughing again. At this point I have no choice but to try to finish, so I press on, and somebody else will eventually start laughing, and they’ll say, “Rob, I can’t understand a word you’re saying.” And that’s kind of like that free meal. I was looking for a laugh and I got one.

Or sometimes I’ll just fire off joke after joke, none of them funny at all, and finally after like the sixth or seventh try, somebody will laugh. And it won’t be a fake laugh, either. It’ll be like a, “I can’t believe he’s still talking, still making bad jokes,” kind of laugh. Which I’ll still take. It’s even better if I’m laughing to myself throughout all of these bad jokes, because then I’m not just getting laughs for telling bad jokes, but it’s more of a performance, a funny little show that I’m imagining I’m putting on for everybody else.

It’s kind of like this one time when I went golfing with my friends and after the third hole it started to rain. So we went back to the clubhouse and the guy gave us most of our money back. And then we sat at the clubhouse bar and drank beer for like three hours. It wasn’t exactly what we were going for, but we still had a great time.

Would you believe me if I told you that one time I golfed a hole-in-one? Of course you wouldn’t. And it didn’t happen. But imagine you were golfing with me and I was loudly insisting on shooting a hole-in-one all day. The first joke you’d probably try to ignore, maybe give me a polite smile. The second time you’d think to yourself that I can’t be serious, that I maybe I should just give it a rest. But halfway through the course I’d just find more and more blatant ways to throw them in there. You’d eventually cave. You’d have to laugh. We’d drive up to the green and I’d say, “Hey, did anybody see where my ball went?” and everyone would pretend not to pay attention. And then I’d move closer to the green and start saying stuff like, “No. It can’t be. I don’t believe it. Guys!” and then I’d rush over to the hole and I’d bend down and I’d slip my hand in my pocket to take out a ball and I’d put my hand in the hole, pretending to pull it out, and I’d look around to everyone else with a face of mock surprise. But I’d have a stupid smirk on my face the whole time, so clearly full of shit, and everyone else would be trying not to laugh, because I’d already done the same exact joke on every single hole, and nobody thought it was funny the third or fourth time, so why laugh now? But eventually someone would laugh. We’d be riding from one hole to the next and I’d make a big deal out of taking out the scorecard, asking everybody how they shot, and then finally saying, “And Rob … one.” And I’d mark down a big number one, every hole a number one. And I’d say something like, “Wow, I’m really golfing well today. I hope I can keep it up.” But I’d probably start laughing in between those sentences, and I’d have been drinking, so my laughter would be just out of control, just way too hard.

But like I said, someone would break and eventually start to laugh, if even just in admiration of how far I’ll see through a joke. It’s kind of like when you go to a bakery and order a cupcake and right before you take the last bite you find a big roach baked right in there, and it’s not even a whole roach, it’s just the end part, with little bite marks and everything, but you’ve been eating too fast, so there’s nothing to spit out, because you just thought that crunchy part was like coconut or something, so you complain to the clerk and he gives you your money back, and he throws in a free cupcake, and so you think it’s not all that bad, because you got two free cupcakes, but as you’re eating the second cupcake, you find the same thing, another roach, and you’ve already eaten the majority of this one also, and so you complain again, and the clerk gives you a free dozen, and then you take the dozen back home, and your mom or your wife or whoever you happen to live with goes, “Cupcakes? What’s the occasion?” And you say something like, “Oh, you know. Just wanted to do something nice for you.” And that person goes, “That’s so sweet!”

And it is sweet, because you didn’t have to spend a cent. But then when that other person takes a bite you start laughing really hard, because you’re thinking about how funny the whole situation is, and you’re trying not to laugh, but you’re practically choking because you’re laughing so hard, and so you have to say something, anything, so you try to explain that hole-in-one joke, but that makes you laugh even harder, and now this other person is just staring at you like you’re crazy, and so you just say something like, “You had to be there. Another cupcake? Eat up!”