#2. The Interrupter
These next two work together, and they both have exceptions, but let's start with the Interrupter. In his simplest form, the Interrupter is merely rude. He cuts you off or changes topic just because he's a self-centered douche who hasn't been properly socialized. I don't have a lot to say about that kind of Interrupter.
"You don't? Good. That gives me more time to talk about me!"
But there is another kind of Interrupter who's a lot harder to define. He's the clarifying kind of Interrupter. There's a good chance he is paying attention -- even actively listening. He's not interrupting so much as clarifying. See, he wants to make sure he gets every vital detail so that when you get to the big finish of your story, he gets it. I can appreciate that. Sometimes, I'm even the Clarifier, because I don't want that whole story to get told with no payoff. And sometimes, especially if you're dealing with a weak storyteller, the Clarifier can be helpful for all. For example, someone might be telling a story about how some woman in a crowd was describing the shape of the birthmark on his ass without ever first explaining to his audience that he went to the Thanksgiving Day Parade without wearing pants.
But more often than not, the Clarifier is asking for clarification on worthless points that are completely irrelevant to the story.
Your Story: Did I ever tell you guys about that time I got a Mercedes-Benz for free? Oh, man, you won't believe it. OK, so I was in Bethesda, Maryland, to visit my aunt, and-
The Clarifier: Wait. Father's sister or mother's sister? Or by marriage?
Your Story: What? Oh, father's sister, I guess. Anyway, I got lost on my way, so I drove my shitty 1988 Honda Accord into this dealership just to get directions, and-
The Clarifier: Was it an automatic or a shift? I just want to make sure I follow ...
Your Story: Automatic. It's not important. Anyway, this salesman takes a liking to it. He apparently has been restoring a 1988 Honda in his spare time, part by part, because, and I shit you not, that's the car he lost his virginity in, and so he says-
The Clarifier: In Maryland?
Your Story: Yes! Who cares?
The Clarifier: Sorry, go on ...
Your Story: Nothing. He just gave me a car in a straight trade and blah blah whatever. I have to go fuck your mom now. Your mom in Chicago. I'm going to use Trojan condoms with spermicidal lubricant. I'm going to take American Airlines to get there and probably sit in business class. She'll reach orgasm in four minutes and nine seconds. OK? OK?!
#1. The Not Getting It
Some people don't get stuff. It happens. Not everyone is as gifted as the average Cracked reader. That's just the deal, and you can't get too upset about the intellectually flawed. Let them go watch YouTube vids and be on their way. But there is a specific kind of Not Getting It guy who's particularly infuriating, and that's the guy who doesn't get stuff because he makes assumptions. So yeah, the Clarifier above is a drag, but for people who really enjoy telling a good story with a big finish, the Assumer is a bigger killer.
He'll sit there with a dim smile, making good eye contact and nodding at all the appropriate moments, assuming all sorts of details and conditions incorrectly. He's failing to appreciate all the setups to your story. Your dramatic finish will end in disaster as he looks up and goes "huh."
Pictured above: A man moments before being beaten to death by a storyteller.
I was going to do a little dialogue to illustrate this point as well, but I can't. The Assumer doesn't say anything except "huh" when your story's over. But what I can do is give you a peek into the Assumer's mind while he's hearing a story.
Thoughts of the Assumer: OK, so this guy's telling a story about Chicken McNuggets. I don't know what that is because I was raised by vegans on a commune in Portland. I'll just assume it's a kind of swimsuit. Oh, now he's talking about dipping sauce. OK. That makes sense. People in swimsuits take a dip. I guess they call public pools "sauce" in this part of New York. OK. So far so good. I'll keep nodding. Super size? I don't know what that means, but I'll assume it's not an important part of the story. Oh, he's done? I don't get it. Why is he complaining about getting hamburgers at a public pool?
If you're in New York City, come see Gladstone do stand up March 27, 2013 at Bareburger. Show starts at 8 p.m., two-drink minimum. No cover.
Watch the new HATE BY NUMBERS, where Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas recruits Britney Spears to make even worse music.