ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Oct 15, 2013

Join us next Tuesday to laugh, cry, and dish about the moments that amused you, shocked you, or caused you to yell things that frightened the other people on the subway.

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Connect on Twitter: @PostLive | @petridishes

And we're live!

And yes, it's that time of year again, when the night wind howls and the dogs bay at the moon and it is the spectres' and ghosts' holiday and high noon respectively, so that means...


Lay it on me. We've only got 12 days until the beginning of the Ambiguously Long Halloween Week/end, so this has urgency to it!

According to, petrichor is "the redolent combination of fatty acids, alcohols and hydrocarbons" released from the ground after a rain. Is that what you smell like after a shower?

This word came to prominence recently-ish on Neil Gaiman's episode of Doctor Who!

I think I smell more like crimson eleven delight.

A redolent combination of alcohols and fatty acids sounds less like my aroma than my diet.

I am a debt ceiling fan.

Now that's a costume!

*With the asterisk that I put on all debt ceiling-based costumes, which is that a debt ceiling costume is only funny to 6 people in DC, and is not in fact a very good joke -- much like the actual debt ceiling, actually.

You're late. No bacon for you.

*flips table*

They always take things literally.

This is one of my favorites. Mind-blowing wheels within wheels!


Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data

And binary!

No, wait, that's another joke. Carry on.

An attempted murder.

What did Queen Victoria say to the capon who sat next to her?

The dad asks “Is it a boy or a girl?” and she replies “Yes.”

What did the highwayman tell the pregnant lady?*

*Ugh, this is terrible.

The first rule of Tautology Club is that this is the first rule of Tautology Club.

I am Jack's complete lack of surprise.

He took 1/100th of the recommended poison.

No, I didn't. Is he okay?


Those who obsessively fill in the rest of the joke in their heads


Dress all in red. Trick or treat about 30 mnutes after most people have stopped. When they answer the door, say "I'm your period. Sorry I'm late."

Or, for the same effect with less of a Carrie factor, dress as a typewriter key and say you're a missed period.

I'm a hipster, so I'm going as ironic detachment. My girlfriend is more serious, so she's dressing as moral ambiguity.


Shouldn't you go as Earnest Investment? Or does your Earnest Investment costume turn into ironic detachment no matter what you do to it?

Any chance of you doing a TED talk? What would it be about?

Undersea coffee farming, clearly!

It's the sort of thing that I think I'd get a kick out of doing but the initial hurdle of having to email them to announce that I Am Interesting has always given me pause.

Just sayin'.

Sorry, sorry! *rights table*

Is the thrill gone, or are you using it regularly?

I'm using it... irregularly.

(in my head that sounded very Spock)

The trouble with it is that I've exhausted its possibilities within the home, and whenever you wear it out you get mobbed by people who have never seen it before and want to play, so you have to be in Human Interactive Tour mode and can't just be sneaking out of your apartment to buy kale in sweatpants.*

*I would never do this; this is an odd example.

I'm a 50yo male who's determined to go to a party in female costume. I'm just not sure what to be. "Sexy {anything}" is out ~ that ship sailed in 1983.

I'm curious why it's 1983 specifically!


You could be Rosalind Franklin, spend the evening taking pictures, and then have other people at the party take credit for your work.

Charlie Hunnan has been removed from the 50 Shades movie (thus completing the obligatory reference to books I have even read much less know about). It seems fans thought a biker could not play the role of a billionaire. I feel the need to explain to people what acting is. Charlie Hunnan is not the character he plays on TV. He is an actor. He actually is a British actor using an American accent on the show.I am sorry fans judged Charlie Hunnan by his current character. I do not know if he would have been good for the part of not, as I do not know the part, yet I believe he was judged for the wrong reasons. Frankly, I hope Eddie Deezen gets the role.

Yes, I saw this! Petitions do get results, or something!

I thought he was good in Pacific Rim!

Maybe they'll drum Matt Bomer in by force now.

Shirtless Vladimir on a Ritz Cracker.

Is this a costume, or just a mental image you want to scar me with for life?

One Halloween I dressed as Groucho Marx. Everyone thought I was Gene Weingarten.

This is why the cigar is so crucial!

Oh, come now, is no one biting on Queen Victoria?

If you're bold enough to know that kale in sweatpants is the best kind of kale--wave that flag high for all the world to see!

Ooh, maybe I'll go as an unclear antecedent or dangling modifier this Halloween! I don't know how I'd pull it off, but it has to be better than Sexy Calvin Coolidge (last year's costume).

Unfortunately, Matt Bomer faces a similar obstacle as Hunnan. He's openly gay, and plenty of people (incorrectly) think that means he can't play a heterosexual romantic lead.

But he's widely been considered a fan favorite for the part, by the apparently decent-sized horde of people who didn't realize the whole series was Twilight fanfiction and they should have been using Robert Pattinson.

Isn't that what killed Prince Albert?

I chuckled.

I thought it was the canning process that killed him.*

*This joke brought to you by Decades of Tradition.

Duck Donuts opened to the public on Friday. It is located on Monticello Avenue in the former Starbucks location near Target.,0,7485732.photogallery Dress like a duck. Maybe the govt will be open by Friday.

Why dress like a single duck? Dress like a duck DYNASTY!

Wait, this could be a good group costume! You could go as  soap opera ducks, or you could go as the Romanovs (also ducks).

Dress as half Dorothy Kilgallen and half Arlene Francis and spend all night asking people probing questions about their jobs.


Or you could somehow contrive to lose your nose and run around shouting "ACK!" as a makeshift Cathy costume.

I was about to start creating a debt ceiling costume, but now I can't since everyone will think I got the idea here! (On the other hand, maybe you stopped me from making an unfunny costume. I'll never know...)

What was it going to entail, out of curiosity?

Correction: plenty of Americans. It's why Rupert Everett can only play The Gay Best Friend in American movies. Brits are refreshingly free of this stereotyping (which is why you see Great Big Movie Stars there performing in TV shows, on stage, etc.). Feh.

But, I mean, Neil Caffrey is a heterosexual romantic lead. Is this just a big-budget movie perception?

Here's a petition:

Grand ducks. Or rather Muscovy ducks.

Muscovy ducks are great!

A pirate. One Halloween I bought a pirate costume, and every year it sits in my closet until Halloween rolls around and I have been completely unable to think of another costume, so I put it on. What do pirates wear on Halloween?

Maybe they go as -- huh.

If you looked like a pirate all the time, what would you do to dress up? Maybe they go as ninjas or zombies.

Imagine if Twitter had been around when Hugh Grant was cast in "Sense & Sensibility." And if Emma T had caved. We'd've missed a great performance.

What great performance would we NOT have missed!

I'm 6-5, hairy everywhere but my head, and slightly overweight. My wife is 5-4 and stunning. We went as The Judds. All I had to do was wear a giant tunic and a red mullet wig, and she just had to bedazzle an old sweatshirt.


I like to think he came to his senses.

I think it was a writer for the Daily Caller who quipped that he dropped out of the project after he read the book.

Go as Duck a l'orange.

Lot of orange Boehner costume suggestions in the chat. This always reminds me of the quip about Reagan that "Ronnie's not dying his hair... he's just prematurely orange."

Actually, the British have a real knack for conserving and recycling their celebrities, it seems. That's why American pop stars whose moment has passed are allowed to slide into booze-soaked irrelevance, while members of British groups from long ago like the keyboard player from Squeeze and the singer from Spandau Ballet have been repurposed into radio and TV hosts over there.

*sniffs derisively* Well, it's a smaller country.

And he was a long time dying, if not dyeing. And have people forgotten Strom Thurmond's Tang-colored hair?

Oh, zag, misspelled that one.

Is it sad that my initial response to this was, "Mm, Tang!"

That was Gerald Ford's line.

I know but part of the Ford mystique is that nothing cool ever gets attributed to him.

The first rule of fight club is..wait, I can't talk about that. Never mind.

Heh, I see what you did there!

Is 50 Shades an American or a British film or what? People write how the British are most willing to accept actors in different types of roles. Yet Charlie Hunnan is British. Thus the Brits would accept him. Of course, we Americans believe billionaires should be manly, masculine people, like Bill Gates.

And Zuckerberg, who, if I had to describe him in five words, is "98 Pounds... Of Raw Man."

he'd be a Lincoln, not a Ford.

Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves. He might be a Mercury.

I think they have to stay in the UK for the celebrity recycling to be available, though. The singer from A Flock of Seagulls lives in Florida now, which must be why he went bald.

Also, British Celebrity Recycling seems like a mild-mannered game show that would be really popular on BBC America.

If you could be in a large room with nothing but bacon and Tang,,,,,wait, you are not even going to listen to rest of this question, are you?


They dress as businessmen, merchants, and government functionaries.

This makes sense!

And as "conservative dressers," for the ladies.

They wear frock coats, as they are all noblemen who have gone wrong.

HA HA HA GILBERT AND SULLIVAN JOKES ARE ALWAYS TOPICAL! Well played, stranger! Sorry for the apprenticeship mix-up!

I'm sorry, the typed laughter in that last response sounded very unnatural.

When else would you get to dress as a bear with a foam finger?

The correct response is "never."

Then again, if you want an equally creepy bear costume, there's always...

Go as Dame Violet, Maggie Smith's character in "Downton Abbey."

Or, if you're really bold, go as Dame Violet jumping a shark.

Whole list's worth a look: Guy in a hurricane reminds me of my college roommate who dressed up as Person Buffeted By Strong Wind one year, which turned out to be the circle of Dante's Inferno reserved for the lustful.

I overheard someone using the expression "gander of salt". I guess this person likes her duck very salty?

Two ganders were walking down the street. One was a salted... gander.

Dress as Tom Hanks playing Captain Phillips.

Oh, snap!

Excuse me, I believe you mean Violet, Lady Grantham, as played by Dame Maggie Smith. "Dame Violet" would be the female equivalent of "Sir Elton" John.

Wow, someone still watches Downton!

No, seriously, good note.

I tell people I am arriving at their Halloween dressed as Lady Sybil and then I don't show up.


I finally get to wear white tie and tails with the family silver down my shirt.

Practical, yet dressy!

How does one make a soylent green Halloween costume?

So Queen Victoria said to the single capon who had sat down beside her, "We are not a mews!"




get it because a mews is according to wikipedia the collective noun for a group of capons so this is a great joke right great jokes require explanations at the bottom that's the classic way of denoting a great joke you can really tell you nailed it when you need a foot or end note that's basically some Twain-level grandeur right there that we all just witnessed together I'M SORRY I'M SO SORRY

And said I was there in my "Invisible Man" costume.

This sounds like it worked better than my effort to claim I was part of the Emperor's New Workforce.

I need help remember a song. Its a dance song, you know, with the words "night" and "over" in it. You know.

I could have helped you if the second word were "all," but "over"-- I just don't know.

Because every time my husband (a district attorney) says he has grand jury, I tell him "The first rule of grand jury is don't talk about grand jury," because quite frankly that I all I have learned about the legal system over the course of his career. But he just rolls his eyes and tells me how that joke is far too old, but here it is still up-to-date and topical. Thank you.

I wish I were a barometer of what is up-to-date and topical, because then pop culture would be completely replaced by miniseries about World War I Dudes Who Were Just Bros and Victor Hugo Rants About Things For Half An Hour. 

Actually, pop culture is good the way it is.

Will Nicholas and Alexandra's hemophiliac son Nicky have fake blood to spurt? Who gets to go as Rasputin?

That's the whole point of going as Nicky!

Rasputin could also be a fun combo costume if you want to be up-to-date and political.

They all seem sad, like lost pirates who want to get back to the sea but can't. Maybe we need conversion kits. Turn your bike into a jetski?

I really like the visual of a jetski gang.

If the reader said it had the words "knight" and "oeuvre" in it, I could have helped.

I like my artists like I like my eggs: oeuvre easy!


The great thing about Halloween season is, hey, maybe that booing's not a heckler! Maybe it's a ghost!

*gets dragged away by ghost-hook*


Battled the Sharkski Gang.

I feel like this comment has attained the pinnacle of chat. 30 arbitrary chat points, you!

His name was Alexi.

This serves me right for not Googling.

I mean, "You know, but he was Nicky to his friends! Alexi "Nicky" the Hemophiliac! Boy, that kid had some nicknames!"

*dragged offstage by ghost hook to be poisoned, shot, and drowned by a gang of conspirators*

I'm a masochist. I am dressing for Halloween as a member of Congress.

Wow, you really are a masochist.

Wow, a Jools Holland reference. Yes, we in the Compost are more than over-educated English majors; we are international trivia masters as well !

Yes, that must be it. That is what we are.

So what do pirates wear on Halloween? Certainly NOT St. Louis Cardinals' uniforms (it still hurts)

Maybe regular cardinals' uniforms? Nice and eminent...

After the conclusion of what is now known as World War I, a Treaty was signed amongst all the nations at war. Congressional Republicans refused to grant President Wilson permission to sign the Treaty. Most analysts believe it was not the Treaty they objected to yet they wished to embarrass the Democratic President Woodrow Wilson. Congress did not give the President permission to sign the Treaty until the next President, Warren Harding, was elected. Harding signed the Treaty which ironically was long after defeated Germany had already signed. I am glad this lesson in history has been noted and will never happen again.

Yes, thank you for repeating that bit of history so we don't have to!

Did they hide in the hutch?

Okay, this is spiraling out of control, now.

Eat breakfast, putter, correct the Internet, wait for my 11 am ComPost Live. Will you still be here when I retire?

I like "putter" and "correct the Internet" as hobbies.

If "puttering" is in your repertoire already, maybe I will be here in time for you to retire, God willing and the creek don't rise.

I always want to go on Jeopardy! but I don't think I could handle the stress of knowing I only get one shot and can never come back ever again ever if I don't win.

Do it! It's not life-destroying!


FLASHBACK of Petri alarming patrons in an airport bar by shouting "DAN BROWN! OF COURSE DAN BROWN! YOU ALL KNOW WHO DAN BROWN IS, DON'T YOU?" taking six pickle shots in quick succession, beginning to sing "Danny Boy."

CUT ABRUPTLY BACK to Petri smiling and trying to look self-possessed as she types: "Besides, I think you can go back when Trebek goes, so what do you have to lose?"


huh, lots of stage directions in this chat

Nobody likes a smart Alexi.


Okay, I can leave now, I no longer hold the mantle of Most Abysmal Pun In The Chat So Far. You might say, I'm dismantled!

...whoops, no, it's back has: Mews - stable for horses, 1394; collection of hawks moulting, or hens and capons fattening. [From the cage for hawks when mewing or moulting, 1386.]

Okay, I've got another venery joke! (The highwayman said stand and deliver, but you knew that.)

Why do programmers love hedgehogs?

I am going to Halloween dressed as a fox. That way, any time anyone asks if I have anything to say, it will all be downhill from there.


dress as a clock. you can be a grandfather.

Or dress as an orange dressed as a clock! You won't be a grandfather, but if anyone plays Beethoven to you, you can start vomiting uncontrollably.

Is there a shutdown clock showing the time of the shutdown? The clock is running.

Speaking of running clocks, I should probably run shortly! Last call!

We've made progress but still more to go. Neil Patrick Harris is accepted as woman-chasing Barney, but that's comedy, not a Harlequin romance type movie. I did too much (negative) drinking.

Don't forget the Year of Magical Drinking.

Yes. It's the Dilbert factor -- the larger the organization, the stupider its decisions.

Because they come in arrays!


Or dress as "A Clockwork Orange"!

That might be simpler for getting the point across.

And on that note, have a splendid remainder of the Tuesday, join me on Twitter, and keep reading the Compost, God willing and the debt ceiling do rise.

Because they come in an array? (Although I'm partial to a hodgepodge of hedgehogs)

I blame Wikipedia for everything.

In This Chat
Alexandra Petri
Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost, a lighter take on the news and issues of the day, and she contributes to the Post editorial page. Her work has appeared in venues such as The Huffington Post, The Week,,, Collegehumor, and The Harvard Crimson. She has appeared on Jeopardy!, Showbiz Tonight and Canadian radio, and she has performed at Boston's Comedy Studio and Comedy Connection. She would love to be on your TV show, radio show, Daily Show, HBO special, or to be an honored guest (or regular guest) at your Bar Mitzvah. She is the author of two books (unpublished, but contact her!), two screenplays, three plays, one musical, and one memoir (Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast.)
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