Laughing at Others is Fun

It’s rather easy to make me laugh in person. Absurd humor, clever sarcasm, and goofy facial expressions can have me in stitches with little effort. But take all of these things and put them on scripted television shows or movies, and I’m suddenly less impressed by them. Certainly, I’m entertained. Often, I’m amused enough to smile or let out a quiet exhale of air. (“Heh.”) But it’s not common for me to truly laugh out loud at pre-written antics.

That said, there are always exceptions.

Certain moments of certain television shows catch me off guard just enough that my mouth throws out a chuckle. Or maybe it’s a chortle? What’s the difference between a chuckle and a chortle? Seems like a chortle would be deeper but also jollier, as though Santa himself had inhabited my diaphragm.

Don’t worry, kids. Santa doesn’t live in my esophagus. Yet.

Some television scenes have the ability to make me laugh not only the first time I see them, but for infinite views afterward. These excellent moments deserve my acknowledgment, and by golly, they’re going to get it!

I give you, in no particular order

The Chortle Awards!

(P.S. – Clicking on the name of the show will take you to the Youtube clip of the scene, if there’s one available)

Leslie meeting Michelle Obama

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Parks and Recreation – Season 6, Episode 21

Passionate bureaucrat Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) fervently admires all female leaders, and is in so much shock when she meets FLOTUS, that she physically backs away at first. The wonder on her face is quickly accompanied by lots of nervous shouting, a cringeworthy high-five, and a vow to agree with Obama on “all things, throughout history and until the end of time, forever.” It’s endearingly funny, and yet also pretty relatable for those of us who are socially strange.

Fire drill

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The Office – Season 5, Episode 14

In an episode ironically named “Stress Relief,” dedicated paper salesman Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) sets a small fire designed to teach his coworkers a lesson about the importance of office safety. Not realizing that the (contained) fire isn’t a true threat, the employees quickly find themselves trapped, and calamity ensues. Favorite moment: the terror-stricken look on Creed’s face when a pair of legs suddenly fall through the ceiling tiles.

FAJITAS!

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Friends – Season 10, Episode 2 

Pretty much anytime Ross (David Schwimmer) mentally unravels, it’s fun to watch. But this episode is especially hilarious. The poor guy is clearly upset about seeing his long-time love kissing his best friend, but rather than acknowledging his feelings and discussing them, he continues to insist that he’s fine. We’ve all been there (says the therapist), but Ross takes it to new heights with a squeaky voice, erratic behaviors, and bad love poems. “V is for this very surprising turn of events – which I’m still fine with, by the way.”

Egg

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Arrested Development – Season 2  (no clip available)

This one’s not a particular scene so much as a running gag throughout an entire season. Sixteen-year-old George Michael (Michael Cera) dates a girl named Ann, who is thought of by George Michael’s entire family as being dull in both appearance and personality. His father (Jason Bateman) especially dislikes the girlfriend, and not only frequently forgets that his son is dating her, but also calls her a number of silly nicknames, such as Egg, Yam, and Bland. As I’m typing this, I’m aware that it doesn’t sound that funny. But you have to trust me on this! Every time Jason Bateman says “WHO?,” you’ll laugh.

The most beautiful butterfly

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 That 70s Show – Season 7, Episode 4 (no clip available)

 Red (Kurtwood Smith) is disappointed in his son, Eric (Topher Grace), who struggles to find his way after graduating from high school. Eric’s mother, Kitty, (Debra Jo Rupp) begs Red to offer his son a job at his muffler shop, but Red quickly argues that Eric has no skills. Kitty comes to her son’s defense by proclaiming, “just today, he caught the most beautiful butterfly!” The line is so random, and Kitty says it with such pride and awe, that it cracks me up. A moment later, Red says he’ll keep Eric in mind if a giant butterfly attacks his shop, and poor Kitty reluctantly admits that her son wouldn’t be able to handle a giant one. The exchange is quick, but fun. I only wish I could find a clip of it for you!

 Fire! Fire! Help me!

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IT Crowd – Series 1, Episode 2

While the building fire in The Office had people scrambling for their lives, a fire in the office of IT Crowd doesn’t ruffle many feathers. (Come to think of it, these reactions are probably indicative of the difference between American and British personalities in general J.) In this scene, Moss (Richard Ayoade) reacts to the fire with a small amount of startle (when he finally notices it), and then takes an agonizing amount of time reading the fire extinguisher before attempting to (unsuccessfully) use it. When he’s also unable to phone emergency services, Moss decides to send a comically cordial email to the fire department. His awkwardness in the face of a crisis is endearing.

He’s fine, he sends his love

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Roseanne – Season 5, Episode 16

I grew up watching Roseanne and still enjoy catching reruns now and then. Every time this episode plays, I find myself putting down my phone or other distractions so that I don’t miss this scene. After Roseanne’s father dies, she and her sister Jackie (Laurie Metcalfe) must notify their loved ones with the news. On the phone with an elderly (and apparently hard-of-hearing) relative, a grief-stricken Jackie is forced to shout the news over and over again, and grows increasingly more frustrated.  The humor is dark, I know. But the sense that you’re not supposed to laugh at something makes it infinitely funnier!

But…it’s my ass

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Bob’s Burgers – Season 1, Episode 7

 Hoping to make a little extra money, the matriarch of the Belcher family decides to turn their home into a bed and breakfast for tourists. As a result, Bob and Linda are forced to share a bed with their three “unique” children, who wreak havoc in their own ways. Tina thrashes wildly and ponders the sleep habits of horses, while Louise insists on staying awake to exact revenge on the bed and breakfast customers. However, Gene is the REAL star of this episode, by bringing snacks into the bed and putting his feet down Bob’s underwear because “it’s warm in there!”

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a clip of the scene I’m referring to, but this one’s from the same episode!

Honey, that werewolf needs help!

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Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt –Season 1, Episode 8  

 The character of Titus Andromedon (played by Tituss Burgess) makes this show. Between his flair for drama and quick wit, everything he says or does is funny to me, so it was tough to choose only one scene. But I had to go with the werewolf. Titus dresses in an elaborate costume for his work at a horror-themed restaurant, and then discovers that he’s treated better as a werewolf than as a black man. Strangers give him friendly greetings and offer their help when he’s in distress, and no one, no one, confuses him for Samuel L. Jackson. The absurdity of watching a man casually live life as a werewolf, combined with the sharp commentary on racism, makes this episode quite chortle-worthy.

* Side note: Just for kicks, I decided to look back over my list and see if I could come up with any themes for what I tend to find the funniest. Turns out, between all the fires, deaths, and breakdowns, it seems the things I find most amusing involve other people’s misfortunes.

Says the therapist.

So, what do y’all think of my list? Are any of your favorite scenes represented here? What scenes (from these shows) do you think should have been included?

 

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Sins and Friends

Just a few days ago, my blog friend Erin made a very clever post that tied the seven deadly sins to American holidays. If you haven’t read it yet, click here to do so, because it’s a fun read. And then come back! I’ll be waiting with snacks.

After Erin made her post, she suggested that I take the same topic and apply it to the Friends characters. I love the show, but what I love even more is when other people humor me for my love of the show! Brilliant of her, right?! I may only know Erin online, but she would totally be my friend in real life if we lived near each other. I mean, unless she didn’t want to be my friend, because it IS a little sketchy meeting people you only know from the internet. It’s smart of her to be cautious. For all she knows, I could be a 104-year-old bearded man.

In fact, it’s more fun that way. Assume from now on that I actually AM a 104-year-old bearded man. One who depicts himself as a young blonde woman. And who is in a committed relationship with cheese.

I decided to jump on Erin’s awesome idea before she could change her mind and use it herself. I set aside important work tasks, like any true Friends fan would do, and began brainstorming which sins would apply to which characters. It goes without saying that all of the characters have their strengths and high points (yes, even Ross), but of course, they have their vices as well. They make mistakes just like the rest of us, and some indulge more often in certain areas than in others.

Although there are seven sins, there are only six main characters, so I chose to add in a not-primary-but-still-often-seen character.

SIN #1: WRATH
Character it most closely fits: Ross

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Justification:

  • He reacts with fury when he finds out that Monica and Chandler are sleeping together
  • He loses his temper at a guy who cuts in front of him (earning him the nickname “Red Ross”)
  • He becomes enraged about the unauthorized consumption of his beloved turkey sandwich.

SIN #2: SLOTH
Character it most closely fits: Chandler

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Justification:

  • He admits to never exercising, and is often teased for being physically weaker than everyone else
  • He spends entire days sitting in his recliner, eating snacks, and watching Baywatch

SIN #3: GREED
Character it most closely fits: Rachel

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Yes, I know she left her orthodontist fiancé and rich dad in an attempt to make it on her own. Yes, I know she worked hard to become successful in her own right. Clearly, the woman’s got some pluck and courage. But you can’t deny that she also had some moments of greed.

Justification:

  • Of all the Friends, she cares the most about expensive and trendy brands
  • She demands presents, and then winds up exchanging them for stuff she’d rather have
  • She encourages Monica to marry Pete for the sole purpose of having an extravagant wedding (complete with a “money salad”) – despite the fact that Monica barely knows the man and isn’t sure she wants to marry him

SIN #4: LUST
Character it most closely fits: Joey

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Justification:

  • Do I really need to provide my reasoning? Have you not watched the show?

SIN #5: PRIDE
Character it most closely fits: Phoebe

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  • She refuses to sell “Smelly Cat” to the kitty litter commercial…and then that jingle bitch screwed her over.
  • These song lyrics, which she sings with great passion: “When I play, I play for me! I don’t need no charity!”
  • She doesn’t mention to anyone that she can’t ride a bike, despite receiving one as a present

SIN #6: GLUTTONY
Character it most closely fits: Monica

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Justification:

  • I know her issues with overeating are technically in the past, but nothing else really fits Monica, okay? Plus, there is that episode where she becomes addicted to Brown Bird cookies and her friends have to cut her off.

SIN #7: ENVY
Character it most closely fits: Gunther

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Justification:

  • He was super jealous of Ross’ relationship with Rachel. That’s about it.

 

Of course, a few of these characters can fit in more than one category of sin. Joey in particular can be assigned to almost all of the sins! What do you think of my selections? Are there any ones that you would have done differently? What other examples can you think of to justify certain match-ups?

Names of Grey’s Anatomy Characters Match their Personalities

For ten or so years now, one of my TV-related guilty pleasures has been Grey’s Anatomy. “Guilty pleasure” may not be the right phrase for it, because a) I don’t feel guilty about it, and b) it’s really not all that pleasurable, since the show’s creator Shonda Rhimes keeps killing off my favorite characters and writing stories that make me want to pull my hair out. But I admit that the madness makes for good TV, or else I wouldn’t keep watching it.

Instead of guilty pleasure, let’s call it “bittersweet torture.”

A few evenings ago, I was watching my bittersweet torture when I had a couple of epiphanies. You know that one episode where Meredith is irritable and says cranky things and makes poor decisions? Just kidding – she’s that way ALL THE TIME. Anyway, while I was sitting back and judging our favorite grumpy surgeon from the comfort of my own sofa, this occurred to me:

Mere’s personality is accurately summed up by her last name – Grey

If you don’t watch the show, I’ll tell you that Meredith Grey exists in a “dark and twisty” place a lot of the time. She’s compassionate and hard-working, but she’s also a bit of a rain cloud, and she openly admits to being distrustful of any hope or light that enters the picture. She frequently talks about not seeing things as black & white, or good & bad. She sees the in-between. She thinks in grey. And that’s a mature position to take, except when it leads to her making some terrible-ass decisions.

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Then, I started thinking about other characters’ last names, and I had Epiphany #2. Or really, it was Epiphany #1, Part B:

Many of the characters’ last names have meanings that represent the personalities and values of the characters themselves.

Have I been living under a rock? Has everyone else been aware of this connection the whole time? Suddenly, I’m questioning everything – including my own name. What day is it? Where am I?

These first few examples had me absolutely convinced that Shonda and the other writers knew exactly what they were doing when they named their characters. Admittedly, some of the names didn’t seem to fit with this theory at first, at least not off the top of my head. Enter Google.

Yang (Cristina)
The “yang” side of the yin-yang symbol is said to represent passion, logic, and strength. The yang is also technically considered the “male side” of the Tao symbol, but I still think this works for Cristina. No, I don’t consider her masculine, but her character did frequently confront stereotypical views of femininity.

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Shepherd (Derek)
Simply enough, a shepherd is a leader and protector. Sounds a bit like Derek, doesn’t it?

Bailey (Miranda)
A “bailey” is an outer enclosure of a castle. How perfect is this? If the hospital were a castle, Bailey would most certainly be the strong, protective barrier.

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O’Malley (George)
I didn’t expect for this name to work with the theory, but a quick Google search taught me that it’s Gaelic for “gentle.” (If you just cooed, “Aww, George!” after reading this, you’re not alone.)

Hunt (Owen)
Focused like a hunter. Pursues what he wants. Dominant.

Burke (Preston)
Possibly my favorite meaning on this list, Burke means “to murder by suffocation.” No, seriously! Now, did Preston literally (or even televisionally) commit homicide? No. But did Cristina’s personality and identity get suffocated in her relationship to him? Definitely.

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As I kept gleefully Googling name meanings, the last-names-match-personalities concept started to lose some of its strength. These names and their meanings are a bit more of a stretch:

Robbins (Arizona)
A robin is an energetic, lively bird, and the name also means “bright and shining.” These both fit pretty well with what we know of Arizona, but it seems a bit too… easy.

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Stevens (Izzie)
Means honorable, which does kinda work for Izzie, but is a bit vague. This meaning could have just as easily been applied to any other character.

Sloan (Mark)
In the UK, “sloan” is apparently a slang term for a rich person. Hmm. This is technically true of Mark, but was probably not an intentional move by Shonda.

Torres (Callie)
Spanish for “towers.” Callie is sort of… mighty and… tower-like, I guess.

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Yeah, okay, that last one was pushing it.

Last but not least, I’d like to give honorable mentions to the names that didn’t fit with this theory no matter how much I manipulated them:

  • Karev means positivity… I know, I’m laughing too.
  • Kepner means weaver of cloaks. Weird. Also, don’t confuse this with Webber, which means weaver of cloths. Big difference.
  • Avery apparently means Elf Ruler. Bahahaha! You know Jackson would be PISSED about that.
  • Also, since the Grey theory doesn’t work with Little Grey’s personality at all, I was hoping that maybe the name Lexie would mean, “weasels her way into Meredith’s heart and everyone else’s” or even, “photographic memory.” No such luck.

At this point, I’m thinking that the connection between name meanings and character personalities is probably more of a coincidence than a conscious plan on Shonda’s part. I’m not sure I care though. Whether it was purposeful or happenstance, it still makes for an interesting idea!

My American Week

I had a bunch of little stories (or storylettes, if you will) from this week, but none of them were interesting enough or detailed enough to deserve their own individual posts, so I decided to combine them all into one big one.

It’s a smorgasbord of hilarity.

By happy accident, my storylettes started to develop an oddly “American Way” theme to them. In honor of Independence Day (not the Will Smith movie, but the holiday), I decided to continue that theme with pride.

Love of Television

This past week, I had a case of the “blahs.” You know what I’m talking about. The “blahs” are when you feel bored and unmotivated to do much else other than sitting at home, pantsless. Rather than fighting or denying that blah feeling, I fully embraced it by watching A LOT of television every day after work.

Now, I’m going to let you in on a little secret about TV-watching. But you can’t tell anyone, because the FBI will probably show up and revoke my U.S. citizenship for criticizing this great American pastime.

The secret is that I re-remembered for the zillionth time that it doesn’t make me feel better to come home from work and stare at the TV for 5 hours until I go to bed.

Hold on, I just heard a noise. Gonna go check to see if any agents are hiding in my bushes.

I’m back. It was just a squirrel.

I don’t think TV is evil, but for me, it needs to be balanced with other activities, such as reading, a little exercise, some more reading, and maybe even some sunset-appreciating.

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Taken just outside Austin, TX

Adding a little balance just makes me feel better about my world.

Manners

I ate a dinner of biscuits the other night. Not biscuits with eggs, nor biscuits with fried chicken. Just biscuits.

This one was surprisingly upbeat after being forced from its tin home and baked in a 400-degree oven:

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Look at that smirk. Bastard knows he’s good looking.

I’m not sure what this section has to do with America, aside from the fact that I just wanted to share it. I guess this biscuit, like Americans, is pretty friendly. There. I justified it!

Hot Dogs

Over the weekend, I went on a little road trip with Cheese Friend to drop her children off at their grandfather’s. Supportive of our inspirational queso project, Cheese Friend’s dad (hereby known as Cheese Dad) offered to make us a pot of the cheesy, spicy substance.  We tried to turn him down, but Cheese Dad insisted, so we gave in. Also, we didn’t really turn him down in the first place.

Cheese Dad kindly dictated his recipe to me so that I could share it with my fellow dairy lovers. Fair warning: simply reading this recipe might cause your arteries to instantly harden.

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Somehow, a few hot dogs accidentally fell into a pot of boiling water, and then made their way onto bun-shaped life preserves, where they were soothed with a smattering of chili. And then this happened:

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Hot dogs with chili and queso. If you’re keeping count, this meal contained 3 different kinds of meat. ‘Merica

“Patriotism”

I encouraged my best friend to act like a nationalistic fool while she’s visiting Ireland. This is how I show my loyalty and love to my country.

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Dehydrated animals = Heaven

On our trip back from Cheese Dad’s, Amanda and I stopped at a store called Venison World, where we stocked up on treats like deer jerky and chocolate-covered almonds. If that isn’t already USA enough, this store exists in a town called Eden.

A meat-themed store in a town named after paradise? Why, it just don’t get any more ‘Merica than that.

…Unless a bald eagle had swooped down and stolen the jerky right out of my hands. And then carried it off to a nest of baby eagles being guarded by a camo-wearing eagle holding a shotgun.

 

So! How were your 4th of July celebrations? Are you going to give me up to the FBI for mildly criticizing America’s favorite technological pastime? Perhaps most importantly, how do you feel about smiling biscuits?

A Kidney and Free HBO

I accomplished a huge victory today that I need you all to know about. I cancelled my subscription to Directv.

No applause necessary. Feel free to send congratulatory gifts, however.

About three weeks ago, my receiver went out, and a technician was supposed to come last night in order to fix it. Long story short, he didn’t show, and my attempt to schedule another appointment was much more complicated and dramatic than it should’ve been. I spent close to an hour on the phone, just being transferred from department to department, and having to repeat the problem to each new person.

I got really frustrated, and ended up texting a friend a message that contained no words – just emojis of knives and bombs.

It’s the contemporary way to express your anger.

Anyway, you’d think I would’ve been eager to channel all those negative feelings into a cancellation phone call. Alas, that is not how Amanda’s brain works

There’s an episode of Friends where Chandler is tired of paying fees for a gym membership that he never uses – however, he knows that there’s no way he’ll be strong enough to cancel on his own, so he enlists Ross’s help for some assertiveness training. They even role-play the interaction for practice:

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Unfortunately for Chandler, the gym employees don’t let him off that easily. They remind the poor guy that he’ll lose out on Swedish spa services, call him a quitter, throw in a little body-shaming, and then convince Ross to join the gym.

Most people probably see that scene and think that Chandler is pathetic, or hilarious, or maybe hilariously pathetic. But I see it and think, “This is it. I’m Chandler.” I can feel the man trying to be confident, but losing his resolve. I can feel his sheer discomfort.

The problem is, I for some reason equate being firm and assertive with being rigid and mean.  I can talk myself into making a difficult phone call to a company, but then the customer service reps are nice and apologetic, and it suddenly feels as though I’m personally offending them by complaining about their product or service. I’m used to being kind and helpful, and standing up for myself doesn’t feel kind or helpful.

Did you hear that? I think Freud just rolled over in his grave.

Today, I was genuinely fed up with Directv, and I was determined to not be a Chandler. (Only with me, the problem is not a flabby gut, but a flabby resolve.) In order to push past that overwhelming urge to be nice, I had to purposely keep myself in a frustrated and impatient state, or else I’d give in.

And just like in that episode of Friends, they pulled out all the stops.

The following is a summary of a conversation with Directv that may or may not have happened:

Employee: “I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve experienced these inconveniences. Instead of cancelling, would you be interested in six months of free HBO?”

Me: “Erm…um. No.”

Employee: “Okay. How about $20 off your bill for six months, AND you still get the free HBO?”

Me: “Nah, home slice.”

Employee: “I can see that you’re quite serious about this. I’m now prepared to offer you one of my kidneys, as well as the promise that I will name my firstborn child after you.”

Me: pauses to consider… “No, that’s okay.”

Employee: “The kidney and firstborn child are of course in addition to the HBO and reduced bill.”

Me: “I still just want to cancel.”

Employee: “Of course, ma’am. But before I transfer you to that department, you do need to understand that  if you cancel, we will be forced to rain down a plague of cockroaches on your home.”

Me: shudders.  “I’ll just… stay inside forever, then. That’s fine. But I still don’t want Directv anymore.”

I did it. I stuck with it until the rep was done offering a variety of bribes and vague threats. While my memory of that interaction might be slightly exaggerated, I’m still childishly proud of myself for sticking to the plan to cancel services.

Again, feel free to send gifts. I like chocolate, cheese, wine, and the color purple.

Does anyone else have trouble being assertive about certain things? What do you do to maintain your resolve? How do you balance politeness with firmness?

 

I’ve Returned from the Beyond

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After a week-long trip to South Carolina to visit my family, I’m finally back! I haven’t posted anything in over a week, which is the longest I’ve gone since I started this blog in October.

I was starting to experience blogging-related withdrawals. It wasn’t pretty.

I’ll have a couple of stories to post later in the week about my trip, but I wanted to go ahead and let y’all know that I’m back and I missed you so much! Every single one of you. Except for those of you who hate things like blueberry poptarts and cheese. What’s wrong with you, anyway? Why do you hate fun?

Oh, and P.S. – Last week, I entered Sometimes Stellar Storyteller’s 6-word story contest and came in 2nd place! Woo hoo! If you haven’t heard about Nicola’s blog and/or her contest, go check it out! She runs this contest each week, with a new theme/prompt posted on Saturday mornings. Everyone (even if you don’t participate in the contest) can vote on their favorites. Last week’s theme was “insult,” and this was my entry:

 “This dinner you made is…interesting.”

 I’d like to thank my friend’s well-meaning-but-super-condescending mother-in-law for the inspiration behind this entry.

P.S. #2 – I came home from vacation to discover that my Directv satellite is out. It’s going to take a week for a technician to come look at it, and I’ll apparently have to pay him $50 for the visit. I feel like this is the universe’s way of saying I should get  rid of the satellite all together and make the move to Netflix.

That’s right. The galaxies, stars, planets, and moons all aligned in such a way as to tell me that I should find a new method of digital entertainment.

So, all of you Netflix-seasoned people out there, what are your favorite shows and movies? What would you recommend for me to watch? My favorites so far (after mooching off my friend’s account) are Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, IT Crowd, and Arrested Development, but I’m open to any suggestions – comedies, dramas, documentaries, etc.

We Need to Talk About Ross

It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about my love for the 90s television show Friends. Did I say television show? I meant real-life documentary, because the characters are obviously actual people, and I’m part of their clan.

You can put down your phone. There’s no need to call the psychiatrist.

In previous posts, I’ve analyzed the themes of Phoebe Buffay’s music, and also investigated which Friends character worked the most. But now it’s been more than two months since I’ve blogged about the show, and I think that’s more than what is socially acceptable.

I can feel all the unsaid words and unrepeated quotes building up inside and threatening to bubble out of me.

It’s time. And I think the topic should be about Ross.

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For some reason, Ross (played David Schwimmer) is hated on so much. I understand if he’s not your favorite – he can be pretty childish. And pedantic. And close-minded.

And there’s also that pesky jealousy issue of his.

But there’s no call for loathing the guy. Sure, he’s got his flaws, but who among us doesn’t? He’s only human.

Well, sort of.

 7 Reasons you should see Ross as the complex creature that he is:

 7. As a child, he embraced gender ambiguity. So ahead of his time.

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6. He’s never afraid to be himself.

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5. He has pretty good comebacks.

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4. He was willing to put on a bulky costume and look like a damn fool in order to teach his son about Hanukkah.

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Because, like Jews, armadillos also wandered in the desert

3. His flirting game is on point.

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2. He expresses his excitement for life.

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  1. He wants to be a good host, even when he’s upset – er, I mean fine. He’s FINE.

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In truth, Ross is lovely. If he were a real person, I would definitely be friends with him. I mean, I probably couldn’t spend too much time with him, because he’d drive me up the wall, and I’d start to contemplate poisoning him with his own hair gel, BUT I could definitely see us hanging out once in awhile.

Especially if he’s making fajitas.

Fellow Friends fans, what do you think about Ross? Do you find the guy likeable and funny, or is he a character you just can’t stand to watch?

Life Lessons from Jerry Springer

Recently, my “work wife” and I started a tradition where we occasionally go to my apartment over the lunch hour and watch The Jerry Springer Show. I’m not sure whose idea it was, or why we continue to keep doing it, but it’s a delightful custom, and I have learned many valuable lessons from it:

Life Lesson #1: Neck Tattoos Will Get You Far in Life

According to the episodes I’ve seen so far, in order to get on Jerry Springer, someone in your party MUST have a tattoo on the neck. Your “party” includes:

  • you
  • your baby daddy/mama
  • the person your baby daddy/mama has been cheating on you with
  • any other extraneous characters that you bring with you, like aunts, friends, strippers, or farm animals

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Life Lesson #2: Self-Defense Skills are Important

Normally, I would NOT be the right person to ask for instruction about self-defense. However, in every episode of Jerry that I’ve seen so far, there’s been some sort of scuffle between guests – and watching these fights has turned me into an expert of sorts.

Here are the tips that you must follow in order to do well in a physical fight – televised or not:

  • Take your high heels off first.
  • Rather than throwing actual punches, simply spin your arms around like a human windmill. This will make it much harder for your victim to dodge you.
  • If your opponent has a weave, you’re obligated to rip it off her head and then proceed to whip it at her.
  • Feel free to take a break from the fight in order to show the onlookers your twerking skills. This is completely normal fight behavior.
  • When you’re handed a cup of water under pretenses of “cooling off,” it’s imperative that you chunk this across the room at your opponent.

Life Lesson #3: Don’t Buy into Gender Stereotypes

Speaking of fights, the brawls between women on Jerry look much more terrifying than the ones between men. The women are brutal – they kick and punch and karate chop and pull out hair. Meanwhile, the men look like T-Rexes on muscle relaxers. There’s a lot of half-hearted clawing at each other’s faces.

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Life Lesson #4: Don’t Give Up on Love

Based on what I’ve seen from watching the show, love can endure all sorts of relationship disasters.

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No matter how many of your partner’s relatives you’ve had an affair with (or how many of their limbs you’ve stolen) – he or she will probably still take you back, if you sound convincingly apologetic, and say romantic things.

If romance isn’t your strong suit, these gems from the show should give you some inspiration:

  • “Even though I cheated on you with my own cousin, I want you back.”
  • “We have to make it work for our kids. Even though one of the kids isn’t actually yours.”
  • “You used to make me barbecue. I miss it now.”

And this one, which didn’t actually happen on the show (yet), but still sounds tempting:

  • “Let’s go off into the sunset and get our necks tattooed together.” Swoon.

And finally…

Life Lesson #6: Stay True to Yourself

Don’t let others’ judgmental ways keep you from making your dreams come true.

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You do you, buddy.

Some might say that The Jerry Springer Show is the cause for society’s decline, but I say that if you look really, really, really hard – and maybe get a little bit drunk – you can find all sorts of important messages. In fact, the show is like Aesop’s Fables, if Aesop had cheated on his girlfriend of six months with her uncle, and then gotten into a fist fight with his best friend on television.

 Has anyone else ever watched this classy show, or similar ones like Maury? What lesson(s) did you take from these shows?

 

Which “Friend” Worked the Most? The Answer May Surprise You

It’s a long-running joke about the television show Friends that the six main characters spend more time drinking coffee at Central Perk than they do actually learning a living.

Personally, I think the lack of work is pretty understandable – the show is supposed to be about a group of close buddies and their struggles and triumphs together, and seeing them at their individual jobs doesn’t allow for those fun interactions to take place.

After all, if they worked all the time, when would they get to play football or poker together? Or crowd in on Chandler’s bathtime? When would they tease each other about having a third nipple, or breaking the porch swing? These are the things we want to see.

Although it makes sense to me that the Friends aren’t often shown working, I was still curious about which one works the most. In order to find the answer, I watched all 236 episodes of the show – episodes I have seen dozens and dozens of times before – and combed over each and every scene for any signs of the characters working.

I took meticulous notes. There was a spreadsheet involved.

It was totally worth the effort.

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So what counts as “work”? Obviously, I included any scene where the characters are shown doing their jobs at their actual work places – whether it’s Monica cooking something delicious at a restaurant, or Ross lecturing to a classroom of students. However, for the purposes of my super scientific study, I counted other types of situations as “work” as well:

  •  Odd jobs that are separate from more consistent employment – such as writing restaurant reviews, temping, spraying cologne on unsuspecting store customers, etc.
  • Discussing  the work day – applies when Friends exit the room, saying they’re “headed to work,” or return home and share a work story with the others
  • Work-seeking behaviors – job interviews, auditions, internships, etc
  • Appearances of work – wearing uniforms (such as Monica’s outfit at the 50s-style diner), or dressed professionally, PLUS carrying work-specific props (such as a briefcase or massage table)
  • Miscellaneous work-related events – includes charity functions, conferences, dinners at boss’ homes, formal work parties, etc – the Friends may not have been paid to be at these events, but were probably still expected to be there
  • Performances – seeing a Friend act on television, or perform in public places (where tip money could be made) totally counts. This one’s specific to Joey and Phoebe.

On the other hand, these more ambiguous references to employment did NOT count toward the tally:

  • Talking about work in general terms – “I don’t like my job” or “I have to work that weekend.”
  • Dressed professionally, but not discussing work in any way, nor carrying any props that might suggest they’re headed to (or coming from) work. We see that you’re wearing a nice outfit, but how do we know you were at work, and not some other dressy event?
  • Non-public performances – singing in other Friends’ apartments does not count

Now that we’ve gotten the boring criteria out of the way, it’s time to reveal our winner and hardest worker. Are you ready for this? Drumroll, please…

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Winner: Rachel
It probably comes as a shock that the character known for being a spoiled rich girl (at least in the beginning) is actually seen doing the most work throughout the ten seasons of Friends. There’s something so fitting about this, actually: the woman left a financially-secure lifestyle behind in order to make a stab at independence, and we get to see her gradually progress from waitress, to low-level employee in a fashion company, to merchandising manager at Ralph Lauren. You go, girl.

Admittedly, Rachel probably never won any Employee of the Month awards, as we often see her sitting on the big orange couch when she’s supposed to be waitressing. And then there’s that whole affair-with-her-subordinate thing. And the falsely-accusing-her-boss-of-trying-to-buy-her-baby thing.

Ironically enough though, Rachel is the only character who never really dealt with unemployment on the show – unless you count the day-long gap between getting fired from Ralph Lauren and hired at Louis Vuitton.
Total days worked in 10 seasons: 137

Runner up: Joey
When trying to convince Chandler to hire him for a role in a commercial, Joey refers to himself as a “chameleon” – and he is, at least in terms of employment. Despite not working quite as much as Rachel, Joey held by far the most jobs: actor, model, sperm donor extraordinaire. The list goes on. Even his acting jobs ranged in prestige from playing Al Pacino’s butt to playing Dr. Drake Ramoray on Days of Our Lives.

Admirably, Joey carried out ALL of these roles with pride. (And with dishonesty, as he lied quite a bit on his resume.)
Total days worked in 10 seasons: 115

Ross
Despite having the most advanced degree of the group, and once enthusiastically proclaiming that he “can’t get enough dinosaurs,” Ross really isn’t seen working all that much. He technically comes in third place in this list, but his number is far behind that of Rachel and Joey’s. Perhaps all of those weddings and divorces got in the way of getting much work done.
Total days worked in 10 seasons: 73

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Chandler
It was a surprise to see Miss Chanandler Bong work so little, considering it’s heavily implied throughout the show that he makes good money as a “transpondster,” and takes his WENUS very seriously. Shockingly enough though, he was the only Friend to go an entire season (the 6th, to be specific) without being seen working at all.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that he truly didn’t work, but we don’t see it taking place, and that’s what counts here. There are plenty of times that Chandler is shown wearing a suit, but with no work story or briefcase to provide supporting evidence, it couldn’t really be included.
Total days worked in 10 seasons: 63

Phoebe
Ah, Pheebs. It’s really no shocker that the free spirit is next-to-last in this study. She held consistent jobs as a massage therapist and Central Perk performer, but a lot of the work we see are side jobs, like catering with Monica or temping as a secretary for Chandler. Of course, it can’t be forgotten that she also held a one-day stint as a life-saving telemarketer.
Total days worked in 10 seasons: 56

Monica
It’s a bit cringe-worthy when the most competitive person in the group comes in dead last. However, although we don’t see Monica working as much, I’d hesitate to call the woman lazy – she cooks and cleans for everyone, gives the best bad massages, and is always the hostess. In a way, Monica was the stay-at-home mom to the other five. Especially when she made lunchmeat foreskins for Joey.
Total days worked in 10 seasons: 50

 

So, fellow Friends fans, what are your thoughts on this list? Could you BE any more surprised by the winner? Which character’s work record surprised you the least?