Home » Archives » April 2008 » Zoeae Doesn't Refer to Baby Clams, But it's Good For Scrabble
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04/06/2008: Zoeae Doesn't Refer to Baby Clams, But it's Good For Scrabble
When is a clam born? How many times do you need to have heard a joke before it becomes too familiar to be used? I've thought of this question a couple times recently. Once was after I wrote my post of April First in which I jokingly used the phrase "I don't roll that way." Hmm... there's almost certainly a whiff of clamminess there. I've heard people saying that a lot recently, and it's always in quotes, never a genuine use of the phrase. That's a bad sign, when the genuine uses disappear.
But what about this one? The other night, Stephen Colbert referred to his new Peabody Award as "...the turducken of awards," because it's "...like an Oscar wrapped in an Emmy inside a Pulitzer". The word "turducken" immediately set off my clamometer. There was a time when no sitcom Thanksgiving episode was ready to air until a turducken joke had been included. But this metaphorical usage? What of that?
I did a quick search for "the turducken of" and found references to "the turducken of cycling," "the turducken of monsters," "the turducken of flea markets," of cheese and politics and spy gadgetry and air travel. But the results were in the hundreds, not the thousands. And many of them referred specifically to Colbert's usage. My verdict: not a clam. Not yet.
In fact, this specific trick, taking something hilarious that's been overused in its literal sense, and retricking it out in a metaphorical sense, may be an excellent device for reviving worn-out jokes. Sure, the Thigh-master is a dead joke. But if a character was relating seeing an older woman "working the pool boy like he was a Thigh-master," well then, ahem... that might be new territory.
You're generally better off with references that are fresh all the way through, but if your perfect metaphorical reference is to something slightly less-than-fresh, you might just get away with it anyway.
A quick note to Gentle Reader Samiva -- I got your note and I hope you found my recent posts about comic book scripts helpful!
Lunch: bean and cheese burrito from Poquito Mas. Doused with a combo of Red Rooster and Green Tabasco hot sauces. Spicy!