Humor is very subjective. But I have noticed that our experiences can change what we consider funny or entertaining. So today, let’s talk about things – that one for reason – or another I either stopped finding funny or never found funny.  Now I’m just gonna say right now, some of these may sound a little superficial. The thing is I’m sticking to things I’m qualified to talk about.

Harassing telemarketers/anyone in a service job – I’m going to TRY not turning this into a tirade about this subject. I also realize I’m probably preaching to the choir on this one. I’d hazard to guess that at some point or another, most of us on this site have had some of sort of thankless service job. I don’t like talking about my occupation, but my entire postgrad career has been plagued by one thankless telesales/customer service job after another. Suffice to say, I find little humor in watching old sitcoms or movies where I watch the same kind of abuse I receive on a daily basis treated like some kind of joke. Sadly, this has cropped in things I like such as Seinfeld and Calvin & Hobbes. Or how about any time we see a customer service rep, they’re always inept. The first sign I wouldn’t like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was the opening scene where Judi Dench is trying to reach her late husband’s account but that evil customer service rep won’t let her in because she doesn’t have a password. Yeah, he’s doing his job!

For me, it’s almost karmic. I’ll admit it, I was a pain to telemarketers as a kid. I stopped doing it after I ended up being rude to the wrong person. But even before I entered the realm myself, I stopped finding these jokes funny. My brother almost took a telemarketing job, and even before that, a little thing called caller ID came around. If you don’t recognize the number, don’t’ answer! When it comes to inept/rude service people, I think I’ve lead a charmed life. I’ve very rarely dealt with bad waiters or inept CS reps – probably because I’m polite and friendly with them.

I always assumed that was why these types of jokes were dying. More and more people actually had to suffer through these jobs, and caller ID was becoming more and more prevalent – after all, ever wonder where jokes about crank callers went? Sadly, I still see these jokes crop up from time to time. This is a matter that if I talk too long about, I’m only going to get angrier. So I’ll cut to the chase: Harassing people who work doesn’t make you some Tyler Durden-style badass. Get off the couch, put the bong down, start earning a living and find out what a jackass you’ve been for the last few years. And for all you old people, the world doesn’t owe you things just because you’ve outlived your usefulness (assuming you had one to begin with).

Side note: I’ll confess there are VERY few instances where I’ve gotten a laugh out of jokes like this. I still find the diner scene in Five Easy Pieces funny. I also still like the scene where Steve Martin chews out Edie McClurg in Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Edie McClurg gets the last laugh and tells Steve Martin what I would love to tell many customers.

Slutty Stewardesses – Speaking of people just trying to do their job, I’ve never gotten jokes about stewardesses being sluts. This one doesn’t bother me as much, but it is kind of a pet peeve. I’ve seen it on shows such as The Critic and Married… with Children. I’m sure anybody my age or older has at least seen some sitcom where some playboy character at least describes scoring with a stewardess who’s implied to be some easy bimbo. I never really got it – maybe it’s because I’ve flown on planes and the stewardesses didn’t look or act any differently than women in other service jobs. In his book Catch Me if You Can, Frank Abignale dismissed this myth, saying that while he did encounter a few women who were slutty, they would have been slutty in any job. (Of course, I’d make a jab at how he bedded these women anyway, but I am not opening that can of worms.) This is one joke that actually is fading away, probably because fewer of these stereotypes actually exist.

Canadians Being Polite – Remember what I said about having to work as a telemarketer? Well, I can’t give away too many details, but I’ve had extensive experience selling to Canadians. I can honestly say they were some of the rudest, most obnoxious, self-centered people I have ever had the misfortune of speaking to. So any time, I see jokes about Canadians being wimpy or overly polite or apologetic – even when they’re played by Canadians (i.e. Jim Carrey’s cameo in Anchorman 2)… I kind of want to pimp slap that person.

Fruit Cake Jokes – Has anyone my age ever actually been in the same time zone as a fruit cake? My entire life I’ve seen jokes about fruit cake and how gross it is. I’ve never had a fruit cake, and I’m willing to take people’s words for it that the stuff is nasty. I have no friends who have gotten a fruit cake they didn’t want. The previous generation of my family has no experience with fruit cake. I probably wouldn’t bat an eye about it if it were just one of those things I just saw in old movies. Then I would just chalk it up to generation differences. After all, I watch a ton of old movies that referenced things before my time. The problem is people still make these jokes. I heard jokes about fruit cake as recently as last Christmas on the radio. Putting aside just a generational thing, I’ve still seen jokes about fruit cake on shows like Spongebob Squarepants! And that’s what grinds my gears about these jokes. People are making jokes about something when the only reason they know about something is other people’s jokes!

McDonald’s Coffee jokes – They say ignorance is bliss, and talking about the infamous McDonald’s coffee incident is one of those times. I guess it’s an example of people not letting the facts get in the way of a good story. When news outlets reported this story, they truncated the story to only tell of a woman suing over hot coffee. I don’t think it’s a matter of just ignorance. I think people wanted to believe what amounted to a real-life comedy goldmine.  Jokes were everywhere! I think everyone knows the story. Some dumb broad spilled coffee on her and sued because… it was hot. And everybody knows coffee is hot!

Okay, here’s a legit question, if coffee was cooked to the point where you suffered THIRD DEGREE BURNS, how would that make you feel? I only bring it up because that’s what happened! This “money-grubbing” woman had to pay $20,000 in medical bills. She only ever wanted McDonald’s to comp her for that much – which they refused. I’m not gonna harp on this issue. Nor will I go into why I have little sympathy for the company (which I still purchase from time to time – hey, they have one hell of a breakfast menu). Instead, I’ll just leave a copy of one of the many articles about this matter here for you to read at your leisure.

I’d say that’s why this whole matter has died down, now that people have more access to the facts and don’t just get their news stories from Jay Leno jokes. But I think there’s a better reason these jokes have faded from memory: It’s old news! Though it is a funny sign of how things have changed. People can now access truly absurd news stories on a daily basis – and it means this sort of thing sticks out less. Hell, Nash has a really entertaining show about just that.

Side note: Do I ever find it funny? Well, Weird Al’s line in “I’ll Sue Ya” about spilling cold coffee is kind of funny, but I chalk that up to Weird Al being a comedy god who can do pretty much whatever he wants.  Also, as much as the foundation it was built on makes me sneer, the Seinfeld subplot does get some snickers out of me. But I chalk that up to having a funny character like Jackie Childs.

Pro Wrestling Jokes – Being a wrestling fan is hard. Anytime a fan tries to watch and a non-fan walks in, you can expect someone to say “God, this is so fake.” It’s as inevitable as someone saying “I wish this money were real” as soon as soon as someone breaks out a game of Monopoly.  Growing up, pretty much any time there was a sitcom plot about wrestling, I knew how it was going to play out – It’s some dated reference with cartoonish gimmick. But the one thing they emphasize is that it’s all fake! Those guys don’t get hurt! Or maybe they do. That’s one thing about wrestling sitcom episodes, they always bounce between ideas. The wrestler may live out his gimmick, he may be a nice guy. It may be a stage show, the guys may get hurt. And I’m not talking about different shows that use this trope. This happens in INDIVIDUAL EPISODES (See: The Drew Carey Show, Family Matters). But I really hate the idea that wrestlers don’t get hurt. Yes, I know it’s staged and choreographed. The fact is injuries happen. These are human beings who mistime moves, perform dangerous stunts, and make mistakes just like the rest of us. As the coach from Major League pointed out, even tough guys get hurt, and when you’re doing athletic activities, injuries inevitably mount up. Have you ever noticed you rarely see these moves properly executed between actors any time some hack sitcom writer gets the urge to do a wrestling show? That’s because if they’re not performed properly, people will get hurt!

I’ve noticed jokes about wrestlers not getting hurt have been on the decline, and for good reason. The WWE has been more open about injuries and the realities of what happens to these people. A lot of this can be chalked up to a tragic incident in 2007. Look, if you know what happened, I’m not gonna rub salt in the wound. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’d probably rather not know. The short version is a lot of people paid the price because of one man’s numerous injuries in the ring. If you want to watch an accurate portrayal of wrestling, watch Darren Aronofsky’s brutally honest The Wrestler.

On the lighter side, I think there’s a reason I don’t find dumbass jokes about lame wrestling gimmicks funny. Having watched the real product for years, I’ve seen some true failures in the ring. You think some hack joke about a wrestling environmentalist is funny? Oh, look, that guy’s doing an impression of a wrestler from the 80’s. Want to know some stuff that’s really happened in wrestling rings:

  • Vince McMahon once booked an entire event around grinding his ax with the Denver Nuggets after he had to reschedule an event.
  • Between the fall and winter of 1999, one wrestler had feuds that were built around him feeding a dog to someone and desecrating the memory of someone’s deceased father – going so far as to drag his casket around by a car.
  • Speaking of dead fathers, WWE once booked a feud built around one woman trying to seduce another woman by banging her father to death.
  • There was a wrestler who used the dance move The Worm as his trademark move (though to be fair, he fully executed it maybe three times in the five years he was active).
  • WWE once booked a world championship feud around necrophilia.

All those pro wrestling jokes are starting to sound like amateur hour, aren’t they? I think if someone wanted to make a movie about the real world of pro wrestling, and the egregious decisions that are made purely out of ego, they could have a comedy gold mine. Until then, I recommend following as they post about the ludicrous happenings in the squared circle – some laugh out loud funny, some downright tragic.

As a matter of fact, I’ll share the link:

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