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Home » Archives » July 2007 » Have Some More Clamonade
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07/19/2007: Have Some More Clamonade

Clams! Fresh hot clams! Well, not all that fresh, actually. I have it on good authority that no fewer than three of the new pilots for Fall series use "That went well" as a punchline. Nooooo! Have I accomplished nothing?!

I also hereby call clam on these mollusks:

"I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you."


(sing-song) "Awkward!"


"I said, 'good day, Sir!'"

Really, people, even in real life, don't use these! They're past their expiration date and they will make you ill. An excellent rule of thumb is "if you've read it, don't write it; if you've heard it, don't say it." Adapt it, sure. Or make fun of it if you want -- use it ironically. But don't expect a genuine laugh.

Notice that there are also dramatic dialogue clams, which aren't really clams, just overused lines. Usually these are lines that characters on screen say so often that they've become a sloppy shorthand for actual writing.

I'm talking about lines like "Don't make me do something I'll regret," "I guess my reputation precedes me," and "Did you really think it would be that easy to get rid of me?" They're dangerously easy to write because you've heard them before. There's nothing wrong with the sentiments, exactly, it's just that the words have become calcified into these empty shapes.

And just because wealthy characters are meeting at a high-toned party, it doesn't mean that they have to have the following exchange:

Jeffrey! Finally we meet! Audrey's told us so much about you!

Ha Ha. Only good things, I hope.


Note that the "I said 'good day!'" clam I list above was very funny the first time it was used (Seinfeld, I believe), because it was actually functioning as a parody of dramatic lines like these. Now, it's entering its double clamage as it is itself growing hoary within its own function as a parody. Haven't heard it? Keep your ears open. I have a feeling it's not done with us yet.

So be careful, as these lines have a nasty tendency to type themselves when you're not looking.

Lunch: fajitas, made with surprisingly excellent steak


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