Funny comes in many shapes and sizes. There's the surly dwarf with the lisp and the meth addiction, for example; he's just a little guy, but damned if he isn't funny. The 7-foot-2 basketball player from Africa sobbing into the phone to his mother back home because he's having trouble adapting to this new country isn't really funny, but the 6-foot-9 kid from Philadelphia vying for the same position thinks it's hilarious. What some people find funny, others do not. Many people consider clowns hysterical. My contention has always been that the only funny clown is a dead one. Different strokes. And some things sound funny -- "Man tasered at Chuck E. Cheese," for instance -- when they're really not funny at all.
Just ask Danon Gale.
Last February, Gale was tasered outside that awful Aurora emporium of shitty pizza and cheesy animatronic dolls. The staff claims that Gale was attempting to steal from the salad bar, refused to show a receipt to prove he'd paid for his meal, grew belligerent and began screaming and cursing until Aurora cops responded to a call of "larceny in progress." The police contend that Gale was not cooperative, and that they were forced to taser him during the ensuing struggle. Gale, who works in the restaurant industry and says he would never object to someone asking for a receipt, cannot go into the exact details of the incident because he's scheduled to stand trial August 16. But he readily admits that he refused to make any deals regarding the charges. "I didn't do anything wrong," he contends. "My kids and I were trying to enjoy a Sunday, and I got tasered."
Weighing heavily in Gale's defense is the fact that he was never charged with theft of any kind. All the charges that are still extant pertain to his encounter with police -- resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, the sort of behavior any of us might display if we were falsely accused in front of our kids, handcuffed, dragged to the parking lot and then tasered. "Getting tasered is like a man-made seizure," Gale explains. "Nobody should ever have to experience that."
Suddenly, "Man tasered at Chuck E. Cheese" isn't that funny.
Streaking is funny -- there's just no two ways about it. "Man tasered for streaking at a demolition derby"? Priceless. Just look at this photo from Jackson Hole earlier this month: The dude's flopping around on the ground like a dying fish, ass hanging out all over the place. What's not funny about that? Hick cop in cowboy hat standing over a downed hippie? Long arm of the law cracking down on a kid having some innocent fun? All right, that's pretty cold. But even if the facts are frigid, everyone laughs at that photo. Even Mormons.
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There's a demolition derby in Jackson every year, and every year, people streak after the last smash-up. Last year, three people were arrested and made to write letters of apology to the community. "I think the judge wanted them to come to the realization that their actions, while humorous to their contemporaries, may have offended others," explains Angus M. Thuermer Jr., co-editor of the Jackson Hole Daily.
This year, the Teton County sheriff's deputy used his trusty taser to hurry that realization along. But the joyous crowd, which had been applauding streaker John Rodgers's John Thomas, quickly transformed into an angry mob, hurling beer into the arena and swearing at the officers. One man was arrested. Rodgers was placed in handcuffs, marched out and later charged with interference and indecent exposure. A lawyer watching the demo derby was so outraged that he agreed to represent him pro bono. "I'd rather have my child see a naked man running across an arena than a naked man getting shot with a taser," says photographer Zac Rosser, who snapped the immortal pic.
So "Man streaking tasered" isn't really that funny. The accompanying photo, though, is still fucking gold.
So what have we learned from our foray into the land of tasers? It's simple: They hurt like a bastard and cops out West like to abuse them. But we've also learned that funny is in the eye of the beholder. And that you should never try to eat salad at Chuck E. Cheese's on a Sunday. Especially naked.