Obscure References - My Comedic Strength, and My Comedic Downfall
I love obscure humor. There's nothing funnier to me than being in a room with
many people and catching an obscure joke that a majority of the room missed.
It's not a feeling of elitism or anything, but rather realizing that the
person making the obscure reference is going out on a limb hoping someone out
there will catch it.
has this all the time; entire scenes are based on movie clips from 20 years
ago, which half of the audience misses because they didn't see the film.
It may seem like a bad idea at first, but the result is hysterical comedy for
those who get it, sending the quality of the humor skyrocketing (again, for
those who get it).
The television show
Mystery Science Theater 3000
(which by the way loses some potential die-hard viewers just because of its
name, in my opinion) is another great source of this type of comedy. Three
characters watch bad movies in a theater, making jokes about them the whole
time. The comments/jokes can range from the non-obscure (a killer is
frantically looking around for a knife and someone screams "Where's the
remote control??!?") to the extremely obscure (a kid is walking along
a fence hitting it with two sticks, and someone says "Hey, it's
Neil Peart!"). One I remember well is when a good guy hiding
behind a door clubs a villian in the back of the neck when he comes in the
room, and they all start humming the music from
was in a fist fight, but they stop after 5-6 notes and say "Eh, forget it".
Humor without any obscurity is like a comedy with a laugh track: you
always know if you missed a joke, and by the time you realize it, it's not
worth figuring out what the joke was. You also know almost certainly that there
aren't any hidden or obscure jokes, because these would have been "tagged"
Strength and Downfall
What enables obscure material to succeed on TV and in movies is often a
mix with clear, simple humor. A Simpsons scene based on
can still seem funny if the robots are
Itchy and Scratchy attacking one another, even if you miss the
all the other jokes in an episode of
are funny, even if you miss the fact that the now-sentient SuperComputer in
that episode just requested that he from now on be referred to as
Loretta (an obscure reference from a scene in Monty Python's
"The Life Of Brian").
Obscure humor can also succeed among friends without this padding.
Phrases like "Almost there...", "It's only a flesh
wound!", and "... it is .......... green" can be a
riot in and of themselves at the appropriate times, to people who
know the references.
Now although I'd sometimes rather remember other things, I remember
tons of quotes from movies, comedy routines, etc whether I like it
or not. As a result, I've got this huge swarm of references that come out
as jokes whenever appropriate/funny, which I love having. However sometimes
they'll be so obscure that no one around gets it, and my attempt at
humor falls to the ground like a bag of wet cement.
Anyway, here's my on-going list of obscure phrases/references, in case
you ever hear me babbling away and you have no idea what I am muttering to
myself about. If you know me and think of any classic ones we've shared,
("Ohh.. but I was gonna go to the Tashi station and get some
power converters! - GLUG GLUG GLUG", etc) mail 'em to me (or submit
them below, which just mails 'em to me) and I'll add them.