Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bathroom Humor: I'm Declaring Victory and Going Home Early

Early on in my college career, I discovered something about well-heeled, well-educated American liberal elites who generally subscribe to the New York Times Editorial Page groupthink mindset.

There are two things that will always make them laugh: bathroom humor and speculation about others', uhh...orientation. In other words, no matter how "high-minded" or politically correct these people might fancy themselves, they will without fail giggle like a pack of schoolgirls when guessing whether an ostensibly straight but somewhat effeminate dormmate just might be gay, or when hearing inappropriate bathroom humor of the South Park variety (while pretending to be grossed out, of course).

Personally, I really don't give a rip about others' orientation. I know that puts me at odds with the mainstream view in my church, but I really just don't care. I have gay friends and neighbors who deserve the same respect that anyone else does. I don't believe they chose that any more than I chose to be attracted mainly to women with darker features (maybe on some subconscious level, an attempt to balance out my paleness, but I still didn't 'choose' it).

But just to prove my point, I did incorporate bathroom humor into my 'shtick' around that time in order to demonstrate how the supercilious crowd might respond. Far from the main ingredient or even highlight of my comedic repertoire, I mixed it in with impressions of Aaron Neville, George H.W. Bush, Malcolm X, and Phil Hartman. I threw it in alongside jokes based entirely on lines from "The Rock," "Scarface" and "Star Wars." I consciously made sure that bathroom humor made up a small part of the overall repertoire.

How did people react?

Just like I thought they would.

I went on a camping trip several Memorial Days ago with a bunch of friends. As soon as we got in the car, the guy in the shotgun seat went on a thirty-minute rant-ish sort of monologue about the subject of the different ways people go about, themselves up after going number two. He literally could not contain himself. He was rolling over in his seat, slapping his knees, and giggling uncontrollably. I was sitting behind him, not really laughing or grimacing, but just sort of staring out the window, lost in my own thoughts at the time. Well, after he ran out of steam and just started drawing stares from the other passengers, he starting pointing back to me (I still hadn't said a word at this point) and, in between chuckles, kept repeating, "He loves this stuff! He loves this stuff!"

Well, between me and him, who do you think was fixated on the bathroom humor?

Good guess.

Next example: At my five-year reunion, I ran into someone I hadn't seen since school. Now, bear in mind, this is someone I lived with freshman year, took a Humanities class with, took at least one major road trip with, and remained friendly with for the rest of our time there. There was no topic we hadn't covered -- everything from politics to religion to future career plans. Well, when I ran into him five years down the road, he said, "You were the guy freshman year who made a joke about being able to tell exactly what someone had eaten that day if you unwittingly entered the 'blast zone' after they ripped one." Amazing, I thought -- that was such a big deal to him -- bigger than anything else we had gone through, from the serious to the funny -- that I got that as a first reaction after five years. Again, if that had been my entire shtick, I would have an easier time understanding it, but even going on jokes alone, that was at best an overall footnote. Never mind Intro. to Humanities. Never mind Tijuana in 1999. Never mind Republican v. Democratic politics in 2000. That's what it came back to.

I repeat my earlier question -- Between the two of us, which would you say was fixated on bathroom humor?

Again, good guess. You're two-for-two.

Third example: I recently heard from a friend-of-friends who I hadn't seen in a while. This is a guy who I went on a three day camping, hiking, and boating trip with a few years back. Again, this one ran the gamut -- capsizing canoes on the Rappahannock, grilling burgers, epic football games, too many Budweisers to count, etc. Well, when I RSVP'd negatively to something he was putting together, his response, essentially, was this: "Too bad. We sure will miss those diarrhea jokes." Huh? I won't deny having made any, but again, we're talking about maybe one or two dedicated minutes at most, mixed in among tons of other jokes, stories, activities, etc. over a nearly seventy-two hour period.

Again, who was fixated on the bathroom humor?

Yup, nice work. You're batting 1.000. It sure as hell wasn't me -- then, or now.

So what am I going to do?

Taking a page from the playbooks of my heroes Ted Williams, Rocky Marciano, and Jerry Seinfeld, I'm going out on top. I've proved my point and I've made my case -- no mattter how well-heeled, well-educated, and 'coastal liberal elite' people become, they will still laugh at bathroom humor -- they're not above it. And if you let them, they'll foist their interest in it on you.

I'm taking it out of my arsenal entirely, esp. considering most of the people I'm surrounded by now -- at work and at home -- are not the type of people I was describing above. There's no point to prove with people who don't put on airs about being highbrow.

As for the 'orientation' stuff, I never based any routines on it solely for said peoples' reaction. I didn't have to. Just sitting back and watching, I learned that it's just another way to see the hypocrisy in people who can use all the right buzzwords about 'tolerance' and 'diversity' and would never confuse 'colored' with 'of color.' Just see how giddy these people get when they speculate about others' preferences -- following it up, of course, with 'but it doesn't matter anyway.' If it really doesn't matter, why are you talking about it with such fervor?

But back to the bathroom humor stuff, it's basically been kicked to the curb for the past few years, but now I'm officially declaring it so. I'll still laugh when South Park and Family Guy go there (lest we forget Peter Griffin's epic stall duel with Michael Moore, or his behavior on the date with Jennifer Love Hewitt), but I just won't generate any of it.

And maybe someday I'll be remembered as the guy with the great Aaron Neville impression. Or for the Alec Guinness "I don't know an Obi-Wan" bit that I've been working on..

One can hope, right?

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