Every week we ask everyone who hangs out around here to answer a tough question. This week:
What’s the hardest you’ve ever laughed?
Rules are simple: Tell us a time you just full-on lost your shit. Pete Holmes asks this question on his podcast You Made it Weird, and it’s fascinating to hear what people who tell jokes for a living say. To be clear, this isn’t the best joke you’ve ever heard and it’s not the funniest thing that you’ve ever seen. If it was that, it would just be all of us talking about that scene in 30 Rock where Liz Lemon says “chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, ack!” like Cathy from Cathy. I can only talk about that joke for about 45 minutes, so we’ll need to pick other stuff.
Part of me wants to answer this with Kristen Schaal is a Horse, but it’s more personal than that. On a trip with a bunch of people a million years ago a good friend of mine and I were getting on a girl’s nerves. We were all teenagers, but we already understood the reality that if you go on a vacation with someone, you’re eventually going to want to kill them. She was sick of both of us by day two, and she especially didn’t like being woken up from a nap. This was also back at an age when “quoting a thing” was the same as “telling a joke.” Watch two sixteen year olds talk to each other, that’s all they do. We were quoting Aqua Team Hunger Force bits (again, sixteen) and the quote he chose for the moment she woke up in shaking anger was the moment that pushed me over the edge. Here was this woman, angrily shaking a headband that he’d been flinging at her to try to wake her up, and she just kept screaming what is this what is this WHAT IS THIS? The context of the joke on the show isn’t important, you just have to picture a calm sixteen year old boy telling a girl filled with righteous fury: “Oh, that? That is a sweatband.” I’m surprised I survived that day from laughing so hard, and equally surprised she didn’t explode and form a new galaxy based on pure anger.
Back in third grade I was on a school field trip to the Barnum & Bailey circus at the Hartford Civic Center. We were all just excited to not be in school so it didn’t matter what we were doing. How many of you have been to the circus? Looking back, it’s a really weird, fucked up event to go to. Every animal has a look on its face like it was just told it was fired and also its grandmother died. One of the few ways these animals could stick it to the man was just to shit everywhere all the time. Remember that I’m in the third grade here, so shitting is HILARIOUS to me and my best friend Matt. So we’re watching these elephants parade around the three rings just shitting the entire time. We’re crying from laughter. We had our own expectations of what a circus would be like. Trapeze artists, a lion tamer, and the elephants were all on the list. But we were not emotionally prepared for the elephants just dropping the biggest shits you’ve ever seen. And after enough time, we started to smell it. Matt remarked that they looked like ice cream scoops and that’s when we lost it. We both were doing that crying, silent belly laugh for a solid minute before we could even recover.
Recently my friend Michael came back into town for a visit for California. A group of us who all played kickball together arrived at another friend’s house to drink and talk and the usual. One guy from the team had grown out some very slight facial hair, like a mustache/goatee combo. He was going to shave it off the next day, so the host of the party decided tonight was the night to dye it black. They ran down to the store and bought men’s black facial hair dye. The host slathered the purplish-blackish sludge on our friend’s face; neither had ever dyed anything before. After waiting the requisite ten minutes, our friend goes to wash it off. Of course, you’re not supposed to get this stuff on the skin. So he washes his face, and when he looks up, he had this huge black oil spill encasing his entire mouth, and it’s not going anywhere. This guy has a suit and tie job in the morning. Everyone was crying with laughter. I had to leave soon after, but I still wondered how hard he must have scrubbed his face all night.
The hardest time I ever laughed was one of the dumbest moments of my life. There was a cancer awareness walk (this story is starting off terribly) where students were encouraged to walk through a designated path for 24 hours. You could take breaks and shifts and my then-roommate and I took a 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. shift. This was a college event, but no drinking was involved. We went back to our place at 4 a.m. and instead of going to bed, we turned on the TV. An episode of Franklin the Turtle was playing. I don’t remember what I said, but the joke was dumb we nearly doubled over from laughter and not sleeping. It was one of those rare moments where you’re so exhausted… anything is funny. Including some stupid turtle who blows his life out of proportions.
I think the hardest I ever laughed was a very intoxicated evening in Seoul. My sister was visiting and I wanted to show her how they party in Korea: buckets of alcohol and dancing until 6 A.M. My buddy Gil was fully sauced and we got to talking about chest hair. This guy is smooth as a baby, as are many East Asians, so I started giving him crap. My friend was recording this whole interaction and he proceeded to rip a handful of hair from my chest and run around with it as if it were a victory. Everyone was shocked and everyone laughed about it for the rest of the night. Weird experience, but one I will never forget.