Category Archives: Greg R. Fishbone

GREG R. FISHBONE is an author of galactic fiction for young readers, including the Galaxy Games series of humorous middle grade sci-fi novels from the Tu Books imprint at Lee & Low Books. Greg also serves as an Assistant Regional Advisor for the New England regions of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, is a two-time NESCBWI conference co-director, and founded the Class of 2k7 debut author group. Visit him online at gfishbone.com

Greg R. Fishbone: Cringe Comedy

From: Read It and Laugh » Greg R. Fishbone
http://readitandlaugh.com/2012/02/27/cringe-comedy/
February 26, 2012 at 11:32PM

In a conversation about humor writing and funny films, I was recently introduced to the term “cringe comedy.” These are comedies where the humor comes from having characters in such embarrassing situations that they either squirm or are too oblivious to realize they even should be squirming. If you find yourself watching a scene through gaps between your fingers, you’re either enjoying a cringe comedy or viewing one of the Saw movies.

Saw

Or, you know, maybe both!

For me, the ultimate cringe comedy was classic episodes of The Flintstones. As a kid, I could not watch an entire episode in a single sitting. Fred and/or Barney would inevitably make a bad choice leading to an outcome so outrageously embarrassing that I’d have to turn off the TV and leave the room to keep my face from permanently freezing into a cringe.

And while I was still thinking about The Flintstones, my wife and I were in the market for children’s eyeglass frames and came across this:

Flintstones Eyeglass Frames

Yes, those are Flintstones brand eyeglass frames for children

This is the single funniest product I’ve ever seen! It works on so many levels:

  • Many children today have no idea who the Flintstones are. My daughter, for example, has never seen an episode of the show and only knows Fred Flintstone as a breakfast cereal mascot and multivitamin shape.
  • The Flintstones was originally aimed at adults, rather than children. It aired in prime time and was at first sponsored by a cigarette manufacturer!
  • If you want your eyeglass designs to seem hip and modern, it may not be the best choice to go with a stone-age motif. The town of Bedrock hadn’t even invented glass!
  • The only major Flintstones character who wears glasses is Fred’s boss, Mr. Slate.
  • No kid has ever wanted to be more like Mr. Slate!
Mr. Slate

Mr. Slate, prehistoric eyewear spokesmodel.

They do appear to be perfectly nice eyeglasses, but on behalf of whoever decided to license the Flintstones name for this purpose, I just have to cringe!

Filed under: Greg R. Fishbone

Greg R. Fishbone: Comedy Blindspots

From: Read It and Laugh » Greg R. Fishbone
http://readitandlaugh.com/2012/01/20/comedy-blindspots/
January 20, 2012 at 01:11PM

I was on a humor writing panel this past weekend at the Arisia science fiction convention in Boston. It was great fun and I had a blast sharing some of my favorite books, movies, TV shows, and comics, as well as getting into the theory behind “bringing the funny.” I also got great recommendations of funny things that I will be looking into. Some were new to me, but others made me wonder, “Why haven’t I read/watched/listened to that before?” And often, I had no good answer.

It got me thinking about comedy blindspots–funny stuff we would love if only we dared to give them a chance.

For example, at the conference I got an enthusiastic recommendation for the Disney Channel’s Phineas and Ferb. Since I have a three-year-old in the house, I’m already more familiar that I’d like to be with the Disney Channel lineup. I know the names of the Neverland Pirates, how many steps Agent Oso needs to take, what hand-motions make the Little Einsteins’ rocket go faster, and what magic words will summon Mickey Mouse’s creepy flying butler. In the process of watching these other shows, I’ve been exposed to a zillion commercials for Phineas and Ferb which, perhaps, failed to capture the quality and content of the show. If my Arisia sources are to be believed, Phineas and Ferb is one of the best-written and funniest shows of all time, but I never gave it a chance because the commercials made it look lame, derivative, and badly animated.

We shall see.

Are there any funny books, shows, or movies that you avoided for a long time because you didn’t realize how good they really were? Leave a comment and let me know!

Filed under: Greg R. Fishbone Tagged: blindspot, disney

Greg R. Fishbone: Poop Jokes: A Scholarly Treatise

From: Read It and Laugh » Greg R. Fishbone
http://readitandlaugh.com/2011/12/12/poop-jokes-a-scholarly-treatise/
December 12, 2011 at 12:18AM

Intending to finally bring some high-brow content to this blog[1], I set out to research the history of poop jokes. This is a ripe area for anyone interested in humor. Scatological content pervades modern literature, television, and cinema, representing up to 90% by volume. Even more, if it’s a Dreamworks animated feature.

Critics generally recognize six major subgenres of poop humor:

  1. “What did I just step in?”
  2. “Don’t know nothing ’bout changing no diapers…”
  3. “Why did that monkey just throw chocolate pudding in my face?”
  4. “Help me! I’m trapped in an outhouse!”
  5. “Laxative brownies, anyone?” and
  6. “Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go right now!”

Three of these categories were actually pioneered by William Shakespeare. Your 10th grade English teacher may have never mentioned it, but most of Shakespeare’s plays were just elaborate excuses for him to frame his favorite off-color jokes. The man was a low comedy genius but, unfortunately, not as successful in his brownie baking ventures[2].

The problem one runs into, when tracing the historical development of poop jokes, is that the meaning of the word “poop” keeps changing over time. During World War II, for example, poop was another word for news or information. “What’s the latest poop?” the soldiers would ask, and the answer would be supplied in the form of a poop-sheet: generally two-ply, absorbent, flushable, and safe for septic tanks[3].

What they called pooping in the mid-1700s would be what we’d call farting today. It would only be slightly scandalous to say, “The groom was so nervous, he pooped in his trousers three times during the wedding ceremony.” Of course, also in those days, the word groom would have referred to a servant who brushes horse tails for a living while a wedding would have been the process of gluing two sticks together. The English language sure has changed over time!

Poop only came to mean fart because it originally referred to the noise made by a bugle. Today we’d call that sound a toot, because once poop was taken no one imagined that a brand new word would also be turned into a euphemism for passing gas. In the 1600s it would have been common for a musician to put a horn to his lips and poop out a song, while it was every kid’s dream to someday poop for the king’s entertainment. The king really loved a good poop.

Even further back, in Roman times, the poop (puppis in Latin) was the back of a seagoing vessel. This is what pirates are always referring to as the poop deck, which for some reason needs to be swabbed after every use. If you ever saw a ship travelling backward in Roman times, you could say that it was pooping poop-first through the water.

I thought the pooping ship would turn out to be the oldest poop joke in history until I came across 19th Century historical linguist Max Müller and the Poo-Poo Theory of language development that he first published in 1861[4]. Müller speculated that the very first words spoken by our prehistoric ancestors might have been in response to bodily functions, and that all additional words evolved from those first utterances.

If Müller is right, every word in every language on Earth can be traced back 200,000 years to a single caveman’s bowel movement and the real joke is on all of us.

CLASSY MOTHERFREAKIN’ FOOTNOTES:

[1] – This is the first Read It and Laugh article to include footnotes. Classy motherfreakin’ footnotes!

[2] – Outside of fiction, laxative brownies can cause serious dehydration-related medical problems, and feeding them to an unknowing victim may be considered a criminal assault. This message has been sponsored by the Association for the Responsible Use of Poop-Producing Pastry.

[3] – In 1941, the Hoberg Paper Company won the first government contract to provide the military with Form 228-PS poop sheets, which were available in Ultra-Soft and Sensitive Skin varieties. Toilet paper continued to be outsourced to the Itchy Sandpaper Company of Piscataway, New Jersey.

[3] – The Poo-Poo Theory of language development is one of several competing ideas including the Bow-Wow Theory, the Ding-Dong Theory, and the Ta-Ta Theory. Shortly after these were proposed, the Linguistic Society of Paris banned further discussion on the grounds that the debate had gotten just too silly.

Filed under: Greg R. Fishbone Tagged: history, poop, poop jokes, words

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