Comedy can be a dangerous business. It's hard to make the world look ridiculous when it's always finding new ways to make itself look ridiculous.
For instance, back in August of 2009, Cracked.com columnist Cody Johnston posted an article about Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (the "comedic" "minds" behind Epic Movie and Meet the Spartans) and created a fake trailer for Vampire Movie, citing it as a likely candidate for Seltzer and Friedberg's next film.
One year and 10 days later, Vampires Suck was released in cinemas.
We've got plenty more ideas where that came from, Hollywood.
So in a way, making comedy gives you the ability to predict the future. It's happened again and again:
In the first season of 30 Rock (which for the uninitiated, is a sitcom set behind-the-scenes of a SNL-style sketch show), Tracy Jordan is having money problems and is advised to come up with a product to put his name on and sell. He comes up with the ridiculous "Tracy Jordan Meat Machine."
30 Rock - The Meat Machine
Tags: 30 Rock - The Meat Machine
The Meat Machine is a dual-press grill that burns three pieces of meat together into a "food ball." Tracy sells this as an alternative to sandwiches, saying that you'll no longer have to "suffer through the bread part of your sandwich." It's classic Tracy: He's a character with ridiculous ideas and grotesquely indulgent appetites. This all-meat sandwich was the product of the writers trying to think of the saddest, most misguided form of excess that a man like Tracy could come up with. That was 2006.
There really is elegance in simplicity.
Somewhere, a man or woman working at the KFC headquarters saw that and thought, Hmmmm ...
Four years later, they would unveil the KFC Double Down: A cheese and bacon sandwich with two pieces of fried chicken instead of bread. Also, it looks like this:
Via Michael Saechang
That's right; it's actually quite a bit more deadly than what Tracy was suggesting. But the spirit is the same: You no longer have to suffer through the bread part of your sandwich. Hell, they basically borrowed that for their ad campaign:
"Meat is the new bread," indeed.
Extras was Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's next project after their success with The Office. In this HBO/BBC series, Gervais plays Andy Millman, a film extra who is desperately trying to get work as a serious actor. Each episode features a number of very well-known guest stars, whom Andy always manages to rub elbows with. Though from our understanding, this is not how the life of an extra works.
"Natalie Portman! Can you let me out of the extras pen so I can ask you a couple of questions?"
In a 2005 episode, Andy is in a Holocaust film starring Kate Winslet. As always, he gets a chance to talk with her, in hopes of getting a speaking role in the film. What follows is this scene:
Andy commends Kate Winslet for doing this film to keep awareness up about the Holocaust. However, he is shocked when Winslet replies that the only reason she is doing the film is because "if you do a film about the Holocaust, you're guaranteed an Oscar."
We'd like to pause here and note that Ricky Gervais may be the only person who can make a Nazi uniform look adorable.
Fast forward to 2008, and Kate Winslet has a leading role in The Reader, a Holocaust film. The film is well-received, but not overly so. Nevertheless, it is nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Actress for Winslet. And we think you can guess how that turned out.
Here's a hint.
Which just goes to show that the Oscars are exactly as predictable as we all think they are.
In 2003, the short-lived but much beloved Chappelle's Show featured this sketch as part of its first season:
The sketch, entitled "Trading Spouses," was a parody of the reality show Trading Spaces, wherein neighbors got to redecorate one room of the others' house. In the sketch, two husbands trade families for a month. They live with the family, raise the children and essentially control the entire household.
What could be wackier than this?!
It's a standard comedy formula: take one element of the real thing, and exaggerate it to ludicrous ends. But TV executives are continually looking at their current lineup and trying to do the exact same thing.
Thus, a year later, FOX created a show with that exact premise, and it was actually called Trading Spouses. The only difference from the "ridiculous" idea put forward by Chappelle was the amount of time spent with the other family, and the family member that went (wives instead of husbands). They should have known better than to try to mock reality TV. Hell, they were lucky to get a full year out of it before the real shows caught up.
Oh. Right. This.
Saturday Night Live has been around for 36 freaking years now. When its very first episode aired back in October of 1975, it was considered cutting edge. Also, Gerald Ford was president and razor blades only had one blade.
Sorry folks, we've got another five years before Gerald Ford jokes are OK. Here's a razor.
One of the "fake commercial" sketches in that very first episode (the transcript of which is here) was for a ridiculous razor called the "Triple-Trac." Get it? It's a razor with three blades! Ha! What an absurdly surreal idea!
You have to understand that dual-bladed razors were new to the scene at the time, and considered a ridiculous gimmick. So they were just going with the laughable logical extension of that "more blades = better somehow" idea. Of course, if you have bought a razor recently, you know it's hard to find one with just three blades. It was actually 23 years later, in 1998 when the Gillette razor company introduced the MACH3: a three-bladed razor.
Hundreds died in the testing phase alone.
Then in 2004, the Onion ran a story with the headline "Fuck Everything, We're Doing Five Blades," a supposed commentary by the clearly crazy CEO of Gillette.
The real-life version, who we're hoping is equally insane, said, "Good idea!" and the five-bladed razor appeared 18 months later.
Above: The end of the beard as we know it?