5 Comedians Whose Jokes Are Really Just Word Salad
Nobody ever said joke writing was going to be easy. Most top comedians have perfected the art of set-up/punchline or clever comic storytelling, but others merely substitute a jumble of jargon for actual jokes. As you’ll see below, word-salad comedy can be funny, but just as often, it’s simply confounding. Hold on to your thesaurus — here are five exemplary examples of wonky word-salad comics…
You don’t need access to an encyclopedia to work your way through a Dennis Miller rant, but it sure helps. How else can an innocent audience member parse the comic intention behind a single joke like: “Schadenfreude is as old as the Scriptures. Believe me, when the girls in the Red Sea bowling league heard that Lot’s wife had morphed into a pillar of salt, the deer-lick jokes flew.”
Somewhere in that murky morass of foreign terms, Biblical allusions and wildlife references is the notion that we get pleasure from others’ pain. But that one’s got nothing on Miller’s take on the TV show Friends: “In the real singles world, you live in an apartment the size of Billy Barty’s walk-in closet with three roommates who are flakier than a Greek pastry placed on Wally George’s shoulder. Roommates who two weeks into the relationship tell you they spent their rent money on a QVC alabaster statuette of Hermann Goring that they are hollowing into a bong. While striving for independence, you begin to realize that you’ve become a day-care center for a bunch of lazy sleep farmers.”
Let’s say, for argument’s sake, you understand all of the arcane references. It might make you think Miller is literate (or an obnoxious show-off), but does any of it make you laugh?
If I have to go on a word-salad comedy diet, I prefer the version served up by Watts. Rather than trying to impress us with his grad-school references, Watts spews a funny filibuster of unrelated thoughts. Hell yeah, it’s funny, if only for the absurdity of it all. Just don’t try to make sense of it.
The Ladies Who Write Me Sexy Spam Emails
For my money, few comics are more hilarious than the provocative ladies who live in my spam folder. Even Dennis Miller would have a hard time coming up with comic poetry like: “My name is Jelena. I’m an artsy type lady that enjoys great companionship. You wouldn’t be bored when a local lady like me is treating you like the king you are. Let’s be matched here. I desire a local man because I do not like my dude to be far. I’ll look forward to having a man that is in my vicinity join the website for me.”
Most of the Comedians in ‘The Aristocrats’
The “funny” in the Aristocrats joke is marveling at the different combinations of profanity and perversion that can be tossed into a single set-up. The documentary about the joke’s origins and iterations explores several comedians’ take on how vulgarities can be combined for laughs. If you like your word salad dressed with a heaping helping of disgust, enjoy Gilbert Gottfried’s shocking, shameless version.
The current champion of word salad comedy — and patron saint of late-night comedy writers everywhere — is the former leader of the free world. Comics like Seth Meyers barely have to deliver jokes when they can simply serve up Trump’s word-salad wonders: “I have a highly partisan judge, a real political guy right out of the clubhouses, and he’s been overturned many times by the appellate courts, and he defrauded me. They defrauded me, because I have a house that’s very valuable, and they try and make it like I’m increasing values. And honestly, it’s a very conservative number. But they valued a house that’s worth 100 times more than the number they used, let’s say 50 to 100. They valued it at $18 million. And people say it’s worth anywhere from 50 to 100 and maybe even more. They defrauded me, and he called me a fraud before I even got to court. I said, ‘How the hell can a guy do that?’ Called me a fraud before I got to court.”
All that’s left for the comics to do, as Meyers says, is “translate that to human English.”