Please Stop Quoting These Comedies Forever Immediately
To say I’ve never clung for dear life to a funny quote would be a terrible lie. I have. More times than I’d like to admit. Almost every weekend, I find myself at a friend-of-a-friend’s birthday party in the Lower East Side or some such neighborhood. He’ll introduce me to his friend — the one who’s having the party. Most of the time, I engage in normal conversation from this point on. I meet new people and have an okay night. Most of the time.
But sometimes my friend leaves my side to catch up with a girl he knows from high school and I’m left alone, drowning in a sea of strange faces with nothing to say to any of them. I’ve already covered all the down sides of Verizon finally getting the iPhone and I’ve already pretended to recognize the names of the PR firms and hedge funds where everyone works. As I struggle to come up with something new, I feel self-consciousness exact a merciless grip on my vocal chords. I take a sip of Pabst and wipe the sweat from my brow. My weak mind is a chasm. Then, I hear someone next to me mention Dumb and Dumber. I muster my best Jim Carey impression and join the conversation: “We got no money. We got no food. Out pets’ heads are fallin’ off!” I say in character. “That’s really good!” a fellow partygoer exclaims. “Thanks,” I reply. I stop sweating and try to think of any other impressions I might be able to do. I’m nothing more than a party trick, a fraud, a cued-up tape recorder, a walking, talking bootleg DVD but, hey, at least I fit in… right?
At some point, most of us find ourselves in situations that strip us of our confidence. It is during these times that we lean on the words of other, more famous people to gain acceptance. In these moments of weakness, we must choose these words wisely. Not only is this true for anyone who has ever been tongue-tied at a party, but it is also for those abusers of the comedic lexicon, those perpetual, shameless thieves of pop culture sound bytes who would sell their own grandmothers for an opportunity to yell “Very nice! Sexy time!”
Don’t Quote (under any circumstances)
It was shocking and wacky, yes. Six years ago. The whole thing is over. If you’re at a party where the host is giving out those memory-eraser pens from Men In Black, then you can quote Borat. Otherwise, don’t.
2. Chappelle’s Show: Anything mentioning Rick James
In 2004, I went on a family vacation to Lake George and bought a cheap t-shirt that read: “I’m Rick James, B****!” I was too embarrassed to wear the shirt and that was 7 years ago. I guess what I’m trying to say is: It’s 2011 now and I still hear far too many people yelling “Charlie Murphy!”
3. Family Guy
It’s just so funny to hear a baby talk with a sophisticated British accent, right? Yeah, I know. It is. But, it’s not really a baby talking. It’s Seth McFarlane, a multimillionaire animator and voice-over actor and if you’re not him, please refrain. No matter how good you think you are.
4. The Hangover: Any reference to Ken Jeong’s being naked, in a trunk, etc.
Ken Jeong’s Hangover performance is funny because of the physical element, the slapstick. You’re not going to win anyone but your frat brothers over by asking: “Remember when that Chinese dude jumped out of that car and beat everyone up?” If you really want to imitate him, strip naked and get in the trunk of an abandoned car. No, really. It would probably be funny.
5. South Park
See #2 and substitute 1998 for 2004 and “Respect my authority!” for “I’m Rick James B****!”
6. Wedding Crashers
Once my parents start quoting something, I know it’s time to lay off. You should too.
“I bet a lot of that stuff Vince Vaughn says is ad-libbed! Luke, do you think a lot of this stuff is ad-libbed?”
—my mom and dad
“I mean, why would his name be McLovin if he’s trying to buy alcohol? He needs a full name! What if someone was actually named McLovin? Wait, let’s Google that and see if anyone is.”—a conversation being had, right now, around the Country, between 437 different pairs of thirteen-year-old boys.
8. Old School
At Christmas this year, my fifty-eight-year-old uncle made himself laugh so hard that he almost choked to death after saying in the middle of dinner: “We’re going streaking! Bring your green hat!” My dad had to give him the Heimlich. That image should be enough of a deterrent.
9. Anchorman: Any character but Paul Rudd
Little known fact: Howard Dean’s presidential run was not brought to a grinding halt because of his notorious “Dean Scream”. Rather, Howie’s sharp decline in popularity was precipitated by the release of his campaign song: a mash-up of Darude’s “Sandstorm” and Champ Kind saying “Whammy!”
(Quoting Paul Rudd as Brian Fantana still sort of works for some reason.)
10. Curb Your Enthusiasm: Anything featuring J.B. Smoove as Danny Duberstein
By regurgitating the lines of one peripheral, newly added character, thousands of Two and a Half Men fans are reducing Curb Your Enthusiasm from the smartest comedy on TV to something reminiscent of Two and a Half Men.
Do Quote (if you must)
I understand that sometimes, you’re going to quote things. It’s not optimal, but if you’re going to do it, here are some not-yet-completely-ruined options for you to pull out:
1. Dumb and Dumber
2. National Lampoon’s Vacation
4. My Cousin Vinny
5. Wayne’s World
7. Chappelle’s Show: Any sketch where Dave gets bested by Nick Cannon
8. Arrested Development: Anything David Cross says as Mrs. Featherbottom
9. The Office: Anything from “The Dinner Party” episode
10. Literally anything else from Curb Your Enthusiasm
Luke Kelly-Clyne is a writer, etc. living in New York City.