Tough Questions: What’s the Hardest You’ve Ever Laughed?


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.

Alex Russell

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.

Alex Marino

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.

Jonathan May

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.

Mike Hannemann

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.

Brent Hopkins

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.

Tough Questions: If You Had to Do Something Every Day for a Year that You Don’t Already Do, What Would You Pick?


Every week we ask everyone who hangs out around here to answer a tough question. This week:

If You Had to Do Something Every Day for a Year that You Don’t Already Do, What Would You Pick?

Rules are simple: When are you gonna finally shape up? This tough question forces you to collect your aspirations and put them into one actionable damn thing. What would you fix about the crumbling house that is your life, if you had to pick one daily thing? Would you do good deeds? Or would you at least stop doing evil ones as often? Look, it’s rough out there. You don’t know my life.

Alex Russell

Pete Holmes (comedian, TV host, and fictional advertizing baby) often talks about the idea that to create an hour of stand up you only need to write a minute a day. It’s an easy idea, but we’re all terrible at compartmentalizing ourselves. We don’t think in chunks; we think in finish lines. I would want to write one joke every day. I’m a weird obsessive about stand up comedy and I liked the (VERY, VERY) brief experiences I had trying to sell my own bullshit on a microphone. A kick in the ass every day to do some more would do me some good and a lot of audiences a whole lotta bad.

Jonathan May

Since there’s no way I’m going to start doing CrossFit or yoga on the regular, I’m going to have to go with prank-calling people from the payphone in the mall. The calls will be short, so I really just need a little spare change every day. Now you may say, “Jon, the mall isn’t open every day,” and you would be right. So on days following holidays, I would make up the calls I’d missed. Heading into my thirties, it seems like I should pick something more sensible like doing crunches or household chores, but honestly, this will be much better for the soul.

Andrew Findlay

I would go to bed by 10:30 every weeknight. This is just the lamest personal goal ever, but six hours versus eight hours of sleep makes a huge difference in overall levels of happiness and effectiveness in life. The problem is, I never, ever recognize that at 10:3011:30, or 12:30. It always seems like reading a little bit more, watching some television, or wasting time on the internet will make my life better, then I wake up very sad in the morning. Seeing as how the phrasing of the question is if you had to, this unfortunate pattern probably won’t change anytime soon.

Austin Duck

If there was something I could commit to for a year but haven’t yet, it’d definitely be doing something every day that I’m proud of. I spend so much time making stupid fucking mistakes, but if I could exercise, read, and write every day (if I had the fucking willpower), I’d love to commit to it. 

Brent Hopkins

The one thing I would commit to would be some flavor of art. As a kid I always wanted to learn an instrument but after failing repeatedly I completely gave it up and it has been a chip on my shoulder for years. With the time to do it every day, I think I could will myself to stop being awful and at least learn something simple to play like the recorder or ukulele. That being said, I am also terrible at general art, so I wouldn’t mind learning to draw or learning to paint either. I like solo relaxing activities so these would meld best with my personality.

Mike Hannemann

The easy answer here is exercise. But if I went with the easy answer, this wouldn’t be a tough question.  I would probably commit to reading War & Peace, every day, for 30 minutes. Being able to claim that I have read that monstrous tome has been on my bucket list for years. However, when a book has over 130 characters and you’re used to consuming media with a character called “The Ice King,” this can be extremely daunting. At the end of the day, doing this every day for a year may not get me to the end of the seventh longest novel ever written, but maybe I’d be able to tell who at least four of the characters are. That’s something I can’t boast about the recent season of The Walking Dead.

Scott Phillips

I read every single day. No, I’m not talking about Twitter and Facebook and other internet material, I’m talking biographies and a lot of nonfiction books. As a career sports writer, I tend to be fascinated by nonfiction writing because I want to mold my writing to emulate some of my favorite authors that have followed sports teams or athletes like Jeff Pearlman, Jack McCallum, or David Halberstam.

But between my job(s), my social life, and those nonfiction entries it doesn’t leave me a lot of time to read great works of fiction. I wish I read fiction every single day; it pains me deeply that I don’t. Most of my fiction reading comes in the form of the television shows that I digest while I work around the house or to give myself a break from writing or researching. I would love to dive into George R.R. Martin or Stephen King, or even re-discover Tolkien after my childhood hobbit fixation.

So I know I could easily commit to reading great works of fiction every day for a year, I just wish there was more time in a day.

“Dumb Starbucks” is Part of Something Bigger and You Really Shouldn’t Be Missing It

Alex Russell

On Friday, the new twitter account @dumbstarbucks announced the dawning of a new business. Dumb Starbucks is open and is very real.

Maybe you saw a post about it and maybe you didn’t. Even if you’ve read up on it, though, there’s just not that much to know about Dumb Starbucks. It’s a supposed art exhibit (that’s their argument, they are an artistic parody of Starbucks, so they can use the name) that sells coffee as art. They stuck the word “dumb” in front of everything about the most famous coffee chain in the world, from their business name to their specific drink sizes (get a Dumb Venti, etc) and opened to the world.

The video above was released today, from the “owner.” That’s comedian Nathan Fielder, who is most likely best known for his series of Twitter pranks. He asked people to text their parents and significant others incendiary comments like “I haven’t been fully honest with you” just to see the response. He’s fascinated by what we all are: how bad can it get? Everyone who has ever thought about pushing someone down the stairs but held off because you’re not supposed to act like that can appreciate Nathan Fielder. There’s a lot to love about doing what you’re not supposed to do.

It’s funny to read about someone telling their significant other something terrible because it is funny to think of how our own friends would react. How would your mom handle getting a text from you that asked about buying drugs? How would your girlfriend respond to a text that appears to precede bad news about your relationship? You can imagine — but you won’t test it because you are presumably not a monster.

Some people are monsters.

Nathan Fielder is the star of Comedy Central’s very strange and very beautiful Nathan For You. There’s a ton of it on Comedy Central’s site, I highly suggest you check some out. The show ran for one eight-episode season last year during a very strong season of new shows for a network that is relatively infamous now for throwing pilot after pilot out and then forsaking them all. They picked up another season of Nathan For You that is set to air this year at some point.

The show is about Nathan agreeing to help small businesses with aggressive new strategies. He demands that a pizza place offer a free pizza if they don’t meet their delivery goal, but then the pizza is the size of a quarter. He inspires an ice cream place to create a disgusting flavor to get people in the door. In one truly inspired episode, he creates a rebate for gasoline that is so impossible to redeem that it ends up being a hike and sleepover in the mountains with lunatics.

The joy of Nathan For You is in the moment that you realize everything has escalated beyond what you thought could be possible. How intense can the process for redeeming a gas rebate be? It involves impossible riddles and your own spirit journey. How could it? Really, how could it?

This is clearly — on some level, though surely not entirely — the best possible ad for Nathan For You. There will be more reveals and Starbucks will sue them to death and this will end up being all about getting you to watch season two of a weird show that you might not know about. It’s a pretty great joke by itself, but if it gets you to at least click on Comedy Central’s site and watch a few Nathan For You bits, then it’s even better.

Nathan For You will return to Comedy Central Summer 2014.