I'm surrounded by comedy all day, every day. It's mostly terrific, but it can also be sort of numbing. The more time you spend writing, editing, consuming, and performing comedy, the more familiar it gets, to the point where before someone even finishes the setup, you already know what the punchline is, and it's almost impossible for comedy to be effective without the SURPRISE factor. Being surrounded on all sides by jokes is certainly a good problem to have, but it's still a problem.
It also means that, when something genuinely does surprise you, the laughs come harder and louder and stronger. Whenever I'm feeling low, I search the Internet for unexpected sources of comedy. Here are some of my favorites.
#4. Roger Ebert's Scathing Review of North
Roger Ebert was a journalist, critic, screenwriter, American treasure, and all-around super cool guy. Through his film reviews, Ebert taught America how to watch movies, and he always demonstrated an amazing patience and thoughtfulness in his non-film-related writing that inspired in me a lot of daydreams where he was my wise, kind, movie-loving grandpa.
And he hated harmless family comedy North so motherfucking much that I might never stop smiling.
One of my favorite things to see in the world is a rage that is in no way proportionate to an offense, so a little context is important here. North is a 1994 film by Rob Reiner about a boy (Elijah Wood) who, fed up with his parents, gets himself emancipated and seeks out a new family. Along the way, he has some side adventures and encounters many interesting characters, including Bruce Willis dressed as the Easter bunny.
I watched the film as a kid, and I remember it being mostly OK. Any time there's a movie where it seems like a child is in charge living in a world that's either without parents or without parental authority is usually a home run for kids. I probably liked it less than similar "kid hits the road to make it on his own"-type movies, but I seem to recall enjoying it. At the very worst, I would call North mostly forgettable and generally inoffensive.
But I'm not Roger Motherfucking Ebert.
In just under 600 words, Ebert absolutely destroys this movie, and it's so much fun to watch. North is a mediocre family movie, but in Ebert's eyes it's like eight holocausts. He calls the role of the main character a punishment to poor Elijah Wood and calls any of the other actors forced to be in this film victims, as if Dan Aykroyd, Alan Arkin, Bruce Willis, Kathy Bates, and Jason Alexander had killed a whole family and being in North was their court-appointed sentence. It's amazing, because if you watch this movie, I guarantee that you'll walk away from it and the worst thing you'll think is "Eh, that wasn't really worth my time."
This is one of Ebert's strengths; he doesn't review films in a way that's too academic or inaccessible, and he writes film reviews like a guy who loves the shit out of movies and knows how to rage if they don't love him back. I will never feel as passionately about anything as Ebert does about how much he hates this movie about a kid traveling around the world looking for parents. I love how important movies are to Ebert. I love how seriously he takes his craft. I love that he sees bad movies as a personal attack. And I love the glee that he surely felt when he wrote this review.
(Please remember that Roger Ebert thought Transformers was a "fun movie" with "grace.")
Everyone should strive to be as spirited as Ebert. If I put half as much energy into learning as Ebert put into hating this freaking movie, I'd have mastered time travel and used it to go back and kick North in the nuts and make it apologize for spitting on Ebert's mother, which, based on this review, surely it must have done at some point.
[I won't insult Roger Ebert's legacy by pretending I included this entry to eulogize or pay tribute to the man. I wrote this entry before learning that Roger Ebert sadly passed away yesterday. Mr. Ebert has always been a vocal fan of the site and was gracious enough to give us a quote for our first book, and I think it's fair to pre-emptively call that the most exciting thing that will ever happen to me. Roger Ebert could seamlessly weave poetry, insight, and hilarity into a film review. I haven't yet lived in a world that didn't involve Mr. Ebert telling me how movies reflected the modern world, and knowing that I will soon worries me a little bit. Luckily, I have another week to process that, because Roger Ebert was still reviewing movies right until the end, like the True G we always knew him to be. He's already reviewed the movies coming out this weekend, and I can't wait to read them.]
#3. Sammy Sosa's Amazing Pinterest
Sammy Sosa is a retired baseball player. According to Wikipedia, he hit over 600 home runs. He is one of two players to reach 160 RBIs in a season and the only player in history to hit 60 home runs in a single season three times. He is very good at baseball.
None of that matters. Sammy Sosa will be remembered for one thing and one thing only: his Pinterest page.
You can view Sammy Sosa as either a plastic-haired robot programmed to swat at baseballs and get photographed or a grinning alien who is absolutely blowing his mission of fitting in on Earth. I choose the alien angle, but it doesn't matter. The important thing is the entire page is like that. Pinterest is an online pinboard where you can "organize and share things you love," which, on whatever baseball planet Sammy Sosa is from, translates to "pictures of me in suit hello smile goodbye!"
Every single goddamn picture features Sammy Sosa posing in his apartment at one of the two photo shoots he set up for his Pinterest account. His poses run the gamut, from Confrontationally Sexy ...
... to "Relaxing Casually Just Like One of You Hu-mans (HAHA, One of US Hu-mans I Mean)" ...
... all the way to Sammy's favorite emotion, Points at Things:
I know. You're thinking that surely this is a fake. It's an elaborate Photoshop. A joke account. Sammy Sosa is rich and likely has a PR team; there's no way this is real. Well, to that I'd direct you to the title of his Pinterest page:
Seems legit. Still not convinced? Well, just look at the caption on literally every single picture:
The defense rests.
"I am use phone for same as your purposes!"
I could look at this page for hours.
"Sideways peace for another baseball wins!"