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Who Hates Whom: Well-Armed Fanatics, Intractable Conflicts, and Various Things Blowing Up A Woefully Incomplete Guide by Bob Harris

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Home » Archives » May 2006 » Also check out "Must Love Jaws"
[Previous entry: "Like Syndicating "Will" and "Grace""] [Next entry: "Talking Dirty for Money the Classy Way"]

05/20/2006: Also check out "Must Love Jaws"

Have you seen "Ten Things I Hate About Commandments"? It's from the same place that did the re-edit of The Shining into a trailer for a romantic comedy. This one re-edits the classic movie into a high school romp. So funny! Google around, you'll find it. And speaking of things that are forbidden, let's talk about another joke type that is generally banned by the rules of good writing and good taste.

I'm talking now about the "Hello Joke," also known as the "Squiggy," because of its use every week as the set-up to the entrance of Lenny and Squiggy on "Laverne and Shirley." Here is a classic example:

All a man wants out of life is something that cries, burps, and wets its pants.


Now, like the "Since Jokes," these aren't really quality, character-exposing jokes. They feel constructed and don't tell us anything, really, about the character saying them. Not even their attitude about the person who's about to enter, since the joke only works if the audience already *knows* their attitude. Also, it's a very jokey-joke. It would be hard to adapt this for use even in the lightest drama. Yes, this is certainly a joke type to avoid.

And yet…

There was a very nice Squiggy on the big series-ending "Will and Grace" episode the other night, a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing farewell, I thought. For those who need background, Beverly Leslie is Karen's diminutive effeminate nemesis. Here is the joke, as I recall the wording:

(to Karen)
Let's have dessert. Nothing heavy. Something small, and fruity, with lady-fingers.


Ha! That one got me. The set up is so beautifully stealthy because "lady-fingers" gets entirely re-interpreted once the joke manifests itself. For me, it works.

See, that's the thing. There is an exception to every joke-writer's "Thou Shalt Not." If you find a really clever way to do it, feel free to break the rule! Just like a real commandment!

Lunch: Back to the food court for California Rolls and another Godiva fruit-and-chocolate kabob

Correction! I am told by someone in the know that Beverley Leslie's entrance line was, and always has been, "Well, well, well." It is, of course, still a Hello joke. Also, check out the fancy spelling of Beverley. Is that the male spelling? The things you learn!


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