What Was So Funny?
Well, gang, it's been one hell of a year, and What's So Funny is officially spent. Really, we're fucking exhausted. Beat. Sapped. Expended. Out of gas. It's gotten so bad that we've simply started listing synonyms in an effort to make this column long enough to declare it finished -- like 2005 itself -- and roll over and go back to sleep. And when we refer to a "synonym," we mean a match or a sameness, an adequation, if you will. How many words is that? Still not enough? Jesus. There's a term in the comedy world for what we're doing right now, and it's "phoning it in." Either that, or "bombing." One of those two. We're like the Brett Favre of humor writing: a storied and prolific career behind us, but now thoroughly washed up, hurling interception after interception out of pathetic desperation.
We're sure that the seasoned, grizzled reporters out there all felt this way at one point or another in their careers, and we're equally sure that those hardened journos have tricks to combat the ennui. Maybe they follow "leads" or shake down "sources"; maybe they move that first swill of hot, delicious gin up an hour to 10 a.m. But What's So Funny lacks the experience to know how to cope with this sudden valley in a lifetime of peaks, plus we moved up gin time months ago. So where do we turn for guidance at such a time? To the best and only friend we've ever had: television. And if television has taught us one thing, which it hasn't, it's that when ideas are getting stale in the writing room, when plots seem formulaic and characters mere cliches, it's time for a clip show.
So, dear readers, What's So Funny has resorted to compiling a highlights reel of the past year. May it do for you what montages of Cliff Huxtable, Alex P. Keaton and other '80s icons did for us. Perhaps just one remembrance will be enough to invoke joy in your little bosom, like the classic scene in which Cliff teaches Theo about responsibility using Monopoly money in the boy's bedroom, or when the whole Huxtable clan sings "Night Time Is the Right Time" on the staircase. Or maybe a recollection will fill you with horror, like the misguided episode of Diff'rent Strokes where Arnold and Willis almost get molested by the guy who owns the bike shop. Either way, it should help you package up the past year. So sit back. Enjoy. Savor. Bask.
In January, 2005 started out with a bang -- or at least a loud, reverberating, fart-like blast -- when the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation boldly announced to the city, the state, the country and the world that it was launching the most exhaustive study of public-park restrooms in the history of the universe. Rather than simply adopt Funny's suggestion that the city mount hidden cameras in random stalls and broadcast the results on the Internet, a task force held public meetings, studied the conditions of various baños and monitored traffic patterns of public squatters, making our boys the first in the nation to embark on such a visionary quest. Parks and Rec ultimately came up with a $4.1 million improvement proposal to renovate 28 restrooms and build ten more over the next twelve years, which the Denver City Council approved in October. Now Funny can finally look forward to a year of proper shitting.
There was plenty of shit in February, but who knew it would come in the form of a storm? University of Colorado officials found themselves longing for the simpler days -- back when all they had to do was justify date rape -- when the controversy around Ward Churchill, aka Uncle Tomahawk, hit critical mass, three years after the longtime prof wrote his now-infamous essay "Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens," which compared the victims of 9/11 to Adolf Eichmann. After a Hamilton College student actually read the thing, Churchill speeches were canceled, CU publicly apologized to the nation, and Governor Bill Owens, aka the wax-faced transvestite, flossed his visage on national television as much as possible.
Meanwhile, residents of Norwood decided to turn off their televisions and hit the books. And then burn them. Bless Me, Ultima, a novel by Rudolfo Anaya that is actually on the suggested reading list of First Lady Laura Bush, aka Joker from Batman, was found to be offensive by one -- that's right, one -- parent. But suddenly every copy in town was rounded up and thrown away, while seventeen women were burned as witches. Eventually, Norwood officials realized the error of their ways and allowed the book back in their schools. Somewhere along the line, former CU film students Trey Parker and Matt Stone planned a South Park episode mocking the town of Norwood, then abandoned that idea when they realized there was nothing they could add.
Speaking of nothing, nothing happened in March.
April saw more lunacy at the University of Colorado, when members of the school's Interfraternity Council decided that it was their rich, white, slave-owning, ancestor-given right to try to kill pledges with alcohol and then make them fuck goats, and they rejected the school's new restrictions designed to curb dangerous underage drinking. Beirut tables were christened, roofies newly minted, and members of Kappa Alpha Psi looked forward to plenty more "Dude, it's not gay, it's tradition -- now take your pants off" behavior.
May brought Fred Phelps and the nobody-does-crazy-like-we-do-crazy Westboro Baptist Church to Colorado Springs to protest against Focus on the Family for being -- get this -- too tolerant of homosexuals. Phelps and his glue-sniffers think queers are damned to hell, so fuck 'em, while James Dobson and his pill-poppers think maybe they can win 'em back to Jesus. Since Phelps was in the neighborhood, Soulforce -- a group promoting freedom from religious and political oppression for the GLBT community -- was out there protesting at Focus on the Family, too. Crazies yelled, Christian rockers sang, a man in sweatpants carried a giant cross, another man on stilts creeped out small children. Fellini, Dalí and Hieronymus Bosch all watched with girlish glee.
Upon entering the office on a cool June morning, What's So Funny was alarmed to find an empty cubicle. Normally by the time we arrived, Jonas, our fact-checking monkey, would already be hard at work, his brow furrowed, acres of fresh copy perused and fixed. But Jonas was gone this day. A trail of Wite-Out bottles led to the back alley, where he lay bloated and dead. Jonas had promised that he'd kicked the habit, but it was not so. Part of What's So Funny died that day, too.
July was pretty hot; August was hotter, and we may have eaten some ice cream. Then in September, old King George II came to NORAD in Colorado Springs to monitor Hurricane Rita, because nothing says "I care about black people" like monitoring a storm from a conservative, white city a thousand miles away! Take that, Kanye. What's So Funny sent slanderous text messages about the president to all of our buddies, then came to regret it when we discovered that Bush was reading them all. Well, the ones without big words. And somehow now we're paying $13,000 in taxes per month. Huh.
October was full of political fervor. Voters were presented with a slew of issues to vote on, some of which we even understood. Referenda C & D, we were told, were very important to the future of Colorado. Some tricky issue involving TABOR refunds and whether we, as voters, wanted to give that money back to the state so that Colorado could buy pencils and orange traffic cones. In the end, we approved C but not D, because C was the grade we would rather receive in high school. Denver voters also passed Initiative 100, which says that it's okay for us to possess one ounce of weed, but that really we still get arrested if we do. Seems clear enough.
November saw the highly hurtful, highly public parting of ways between What's So Funny and our companion lemur, Marshall. Seems Marshall didn't think the What's So Funny train was moving fast enough, and he didn't mind telling the press about it, either. A bare-knuckle fistfight on the 16th Street Mall effectively severed our relationship, and Marshall split for Hollywood, where we hear he's somehow involved with the new Vin Diesel project. We wish him nothing but AIDS.
December...what didn't happen in December? A proper ending to this column, that's what. But seeing as we've just about nailed our word count here, we'll close simply by saying that when you think about 2005, dear readers, try to treat it like an auld acquaintance. Let it be forgot, and never, ever brought to mind.
Here's wishing you a much funnier 2006.
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