Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

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)

1. Borat
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

7. Superbad
“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
3. Seinfeld
4. My Cousin Vinny
5. Wayne's World
6. Slackers
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.

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  • Shannon

    I can't say I agree with the premise. I think it's really cute when guys quote lines(dialogue/monologues) movies and television shows, but moderation is key. So, maybe I'm with you to an extent.

  • JoshUng

    To add to when you say "Once my parents start quoting something, I know it’s time to lay off. You should too." You can add, when some dumb Parody Movie does the joke, its probably a sign that joke/quote is too old.

    But I have faith, I mean, I haven't heard anybody say "Do I make you honrny baby?" in quite awhile, so they will fade, hopefully.

  • Megh Wright

    This is cute, but I'm really not vibing with the idea that, hey, you CAN quote this and you CAN'T quote this, because I said so. You know? Meh. It's just kind of a downer. As a side note, the thing I quote more than anything else is Will Ferrell on SNL as James Lipton, with Kate Hudson playing Drew Barrymore – I'll either go with "I wouldn't want to burn monkeys" or "YOU ARE A DELIGHT!", depending on my mood.

    • http://sorryyourheinous.tumblr.com/ sorry your heinous

      The best thing about quoting Will Ferrell as James Lipton is my brain is absolutely convinced that those words and phrasing are James Lipton. Original Lipton does not exist. When he briefly appeared on Conan for a bit, I had a minor stroke trying to reconcile things.

  • Caroline Anderson

    Can we still quote Wet Hot American Summer? That's kind of how I pick up chicks.

    • mallory.elis@gmail.com

      That is the only and the best way to pick up chicks. "I am NOT Ruth Buzzi standing here!"

  • Mike Schuster

    I'm not sure. It would seem that Simpsons, Ghostbusters, and Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker movies are the most acceptable sources for quotes.

    Because, aside from super obscure line, I could go my whole life without having to hear another Seinfeld quote.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steve-Seck/1383864268 Steve Seck

      i agree with everything mike posted. i like seinfeld (the show, not the guy who made bee movie & the marriage ref) just fine but i've heard enough people quote it for two lifetimes. obscure quotes would be fine, but i've never come across someone who quotes anything but the lines that were tired a week after the episodes first aired.
      additionally: why would ANYONE quote "slackers"? if "master of disguise" didn't exist, it would have easily taken the dubious honor of "most universally reviled film of 2002".

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Meredith-Fay-Lovelace/1425225024 Meredith Fay Lovelace

    You're really giving me the permission to keep yelling "Scwhing!" when I'm drunk?

  • Jakooboo

    I will NOT stop saying "vey nice!"

    Not even for you, Frooch.

  • Shannon

    I refuse to stop quoting Weekend at Bernie's and Three Men and a Baby.

  • Dekkoparsnip

    Is "Clue" still acceptable? My friends and I do a lot of "Clue."

    • JoshUng

      While I am no authority, my personal feelings is that "Clue" is always acceptable, in any situation, even if its completely unrelated to whatever it is you are responding too.

  • http://www.anfscu.tumblr.com Joe Berkowitz

    Nobody really does it anymore, but how annoying did those Napolean Dynamite quotes get?

    • Mr B Natural

      Ugh. My dad says "decroded piece of crap" at least daily and each time I want to throttle him.

    • steen

      Unfortunately, I hear people in Washington still quoting Napolean Dynamite, even though the movie wasn't even funny in the first place. I think some stores even sell t-shirts. The pointless movie shouldn't have been made, and especially should not be quoted 7 years later…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Laura-Shapiro/4203781 Laura Shapiro

    1) I definitely had a dream once about an article with this premise being posted, but it was on a blue website and I think referenced imaginary movies because it was in fact a dream.
    2) My biggest problem lately is related but opposite: people think I'm way cleverer than I am because I'm quoting stuff they have not heard of, mostly Community but occasionally other things.

  • Mr B Natural

    I'd like to add "Kids In The Hall" to the list of "Do Quote". About 3 people in 1000 will ever get the reference, but those 3 people will instantly become your best friend.

    • FubarGuy

      I like you, and I bet you have a good attitude towards menstruation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dale-Sams/100000048856479 Dale Sams

    "Wayne's World"? No…no..just..no. Unless you're in a band doing a mic check and you say "Sibilince."

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Derek-Martz/100001435077041 Derek Martz

    Who'd like a banger in the mouth? Oh, right! I forgot, here in the States, you call it a "sausage in the mouth."

  • tycho.brohe

    Hey, I understand your sense of humor doesn't extend past the border of 1995, but if you want to be any kind of reasonable, how about you say, as @JoshUng does, "Once my parents start quoting something, I know it’s time to lay off. You should too." Seriously, there are some things that are funny to people for ages, and for some prick hipster to say "lay off Borat jokes" (even if I agree, and I do), you are frankly not edgy enough to say "go fuck yourself" to people commenting here.

  • iandunphy

    I agree with tycho.brohe. Even though I completely understand where you're coming from, you can't say what's acceptable and what's unacceptable to quote. I detest anyone exclaiming a Borat quote or an Anchorman quote ("Sex Panther!"… shut up) but what I do love is now laughing at the absurdity of someone still believing "high five!" or "I love lamp" as still being funny to them. Snobbish, perhaps. But I don't care.

  • MexicanMidget

    How on earth are Monty Python and the Holy Grail and/or Mean Girls not on the Do Quote list? Easily two of the most quotable comedies ever made.

  • Drew Courtright@facebook

    Did anyone else catch the fact that the quote from Dumb and Dumber is actually, "We got no FOOD, we got no JOBS, our pest heads are falling off!"? I'd say, regardless of which movie or show you choose to quote, make sure you at least quote it correctly. And don't forget about The Big Lebowski; it's a classic.

  • Tobias Aplin

    I have literally quoted from almost every one of these movies/ shows at some point in my life and I agree that the humor is gone…

  • Doctor Girlfriend

    Yes! I have your permission to continue saying "douche chillll!" in awkward situations!

  • Kabong

    Is it still acceptable to quote the movie Congo? What if someone is in fact eating your sesame cake and you wish for them to cease? What about if your name is Amy and you are a bad gorilla?

  • Jason McElweenie@facebook

    Tonight's top story: Anger blogger needs sex

  • The Mule

    When I hear people quote Borat, I immediately go outside and throw a garbage can through the window, regardless of where I am or who I am with.