Chatological Humor (Mar. 19)

Mar 19, 2019

Today's five-question poll.

You asked for it and you got it. Gene will now be holding weekly mini-chats, where he takes your questions about what's happening in the country — and anything else you want to discuss.

Good afternoon. 

I need to begin with an apology.  Today's poll is stupid.  We all understand that, and it is pointless to pretend otherwise.  These are matters of taste, and there are no "correct" answers.  Only an idiot would make such claims. 


Cauliflower is waaay better than broccoli.  Cauliflower is a subtle taste that can be enhanced but not overwhelmed by butter, pine nuts, etc.  it is, in its own way, as elegant as veal brains, which the French cook to perfection and beyond.   Broccoli is vomitaciously unsubtle.  it is possible to enjoy broccoli, I suppose, if you like the idea of eating little trees, but it cannot be improved upon.  It is what it is.  It is this thing you eat because someone is making you eat it.

You are all mostly wrong about noodles and rice, though I don't feel as strongly about that.   The best way I can explain is is that there is such a thing as "sushi rice," made with vinegar and love, and there is no such thing as sushi noodles because My God.

Lemon is better than lime, but mostly because of its versatility.  Both taste excellent.  But lemon works way better with fish.  Lemon is your choice there.

Casablanca is the greatest movie of all time, so you are mostly idiots.

But it's the last category where we get really testy.    I don't know how to explain your answers other than observing that most of you are children.

Airplane! is an excellent movie.   Princess Bride is an excellent movie.  Blazing Saddles is a worthy runner-up, and the astonishingly brilliant performance of Cleavon Little, who died at 53. .  But there has never been a movie as brilliantly and deeply funny as Dr. Strangelove.   It works as pure humor.  It works as satire.  It works on its deepest level as a withering indictment of war.   When I took a class at Harvard in 1988 about humor in film, it was the only movie we watched.  For seven days.

 All of you -- well, most of you -- are idiots.  I am so sorry to have to tell you that.

Okay, good.  The chat starts at noon. 

The Princess Bride is a nice movie, and probably the best acted and directed among the four choices. But, while it has some amusing moments and many quotable lines, it is not what I would consider a "funny" movie. Dr. Strangelove is similarly not really a funny move. What Blazing Saddles and Airplane have in common is that they were made from the beginning to be nothing more than funny. Airplane is the only movie I ever sat through in a theater where the smile never left my face the entire time, so I voted for that. Blazing Saddles also falls apart a little at the end when they leave the western and start roaming around the studio. But it was a close decision. True story - I saw Blazing Saddles for the first time in a room full of nuns. There were some cringeworthy moments as a result, but they all seemed to be enjoying it.

I saw Casablanca for the first time in a small movie house in Fire Island.   The electricity went out at minute 12 or so.  Right after the Marseilles scene.  No more movie.  Refund.  It was a genius experience.

I missed the last two chats live, so you're getting my bloviations late; sorry. Initially, I was appalled at the prospect of wishing misfortune on the rest of the country just because I despise the Corrupt Combover. I'm in a pretty recession-proof industry, and it likely wouldn't hurt me, but really. C'mon. However, the argument proposed by other readers, that a recession would be a lesser evil compared to the long term damage this guy can inflict, is at least defensible. One can dispute it, but it's at least credible. I then reflected, too, that people most hurt by a recession would be those responsible for bringing us this travesty of leadership. There's some satisfaction in that. Of course, the schadenfreude is mitigated by the likelihood that they'll never see what they have done. And we'll end up with what the business cycle gives us, anyway. As for lunch, while I'd love to hear what Jesus would have to say about his legacy, I think I'd rather have a beer and a burger with you or Hax.

How about me AND Hax?

I have an interesting story about Hax.  Back in 1993, when I was twelve years old and Hax was not yet born, I ran the Sunday Style section and she was the lady who laid out the pages.  Seriously.   Then she decided to try to write an advice column.  I said it would not work.

What about me AND Hax.  Funny story about Hax: Back in 1993, when I was 13 years old and Hax was not yet born, I was the editor of the Sunday Style section at the Post, and she was the lady who laid out the pages.  Seriously. She suggested starting an advice column, and I said it was a stupid idea.

I KNEW you were going to pick Dr. Strangelove. Weingarten only pawn in game of life.

There is no better funny movie. 

You need to flip flop Blazing Saddles and Dr. Strangelove. Pulling off that level of Ethnic humor in Popular cinema is a work of genius.

I am not claiming you are an idiot, which should mean something.

Casablanca is overrated melodramatic crap. Godfather is one of the most perfect movies ever made.

You are an idiot.

Why can't we change our answer in the poll before we hit submit? I clicked accidentally and now have to live my life with the Post thinking I like broccoli. What gives?

Take responsibility for yourself.  Be a mensch.  You screwed up, and that's it.

Wow. You were wrong on four out of five!!! How did you manage that? Cauliflower is versatile because it doesn't taste like anything. "The Godfather" is the Greatest American Movie- you can look it up. You can make noodles from rice, but you can't make rice from noodles. Noodles win. And - Dr. Strangelove just proves you're old. Airplane! is the only comedy that made my 15-year-old GenZ kid laugh till the point of puking. Lemons are good, though, so you have that going for you.

Do your children know how lame you are?

Cauliflower is more versatile, but broccoli tastes more interesting on its own without doctoring. On a desert island with just one or the other -- broccoli. There are so many more varieties of noodle that I like than varieties of rice that I like. We don't need sushi noodles because we have sushi rice, but most noodle dishes would be greatly diminished by using rice, so rice is superior only if we are talking solely about sushi. In which case the question should be which is best for sushi. Lemons, yes -- versatility. Casablanca, yes -- all of these are timeless classics and it's the best on that list. Funny movie -- here again you need to define "best". Princess Bride is the only one on that list that has aged well. I'm not a child, mid-fifties, but I saw Dr. Strangelove for the first time 20+ years after it was made and was struck by how much it is a product of its time. Same with Airplane! -- lots of inside jokes of its decade that go right over the heads of my kids, in addition to being a send-up of a type of movie that doesn't get made anymore. I loved it when it came out and still do but it hasn't aged well. Blazing Saddles is only slightly dated but I've never liked the "I couldn't come up with an ending" ending.

I am publishing this.  

So cauliflower is better because you can make it taste like something other than cauliflower? That doesn't sound like much of an endorsement.

And you despise lobster because it tastes like butter.  Understood.   We are all making fun of you now.

There may not be wrong answers to your poll, but I probably couldn't couldn't ever marry anyone who thinks the Princess Bride, an excellent movie, is funnier than Blazing Saddles.

I will marry you.

People think broccoli sucks because they steam it. Ick. Chop up your broccoli, toss it in a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little lemon juice. Roast it at 425 until it's a little charred. Eat. Trust me, it's a revelation.

it still tastes like broccoli.

There's some good performances in Casablanca, but the script is full of cliched phrases: the usual suspects; here's looking at you, kid; start of a beautiful friendship.

Right.   I am inviting persons to make fun of this person now.


In 1964, fresh out of grad school, my dad got year-long fellowship in Europe. Rather than flying, he and my mom thought it would be fine to travel there by cruise ship. Big mistake. They were 60s liberal college students. All the other passengers ship were rich, elderly Texans. There were lots of onboard activities, catering to older people, which they both hated. But, finally, one good thing! A screening of the new Peter Sellers movie, Dr. Strangelove. It lived up to their hopes. It was great, wonderful, the highlight of their trip. And they were the only people in the theater who realized it was a comedy.

That's the genius of it!

I've heard several people refer to him as "Traitor Tot." I like it. Short, punny, dismissive, while also underscoring the seriousness of his actions.

It's good.

Man, that was a difficult decision. Those are all great funny movies for completely different reasons, and which one I'd choose to watch would depend on my mood and company. I think the Princess Bride is the most universal because, unlike the others, you don't need to know anything else to get the jokes. P.S. If anyone reading this has not read the book, please correct that immediately. William Goldman was a national treasure.

Also, agreed.

I love, love, love The Princess Bride. But nothing has ever been as funny as watching Airplane! the first time. I had to vote for the latter, but felt kinda bad about it... Guess I picked the wrong week to quit sniffin' glue!

My problem with Airplane! -- and it is only a small problem -- is that it is entirely one-liners.

The answer depends what you mean by this. If you mean which is funniest, it's Dr. Strangelove (btw, Young Frankenstein is funnier than Blazing Saddles). If you mean which is the best film, it's The Princess Bride. Why? Because the greatness of a movie is directly proportional to how often it's quoted. The Princess Bride could be the most quotable movie of all time, ergo, it is the greatest movie of all time (doesn't make it the funniest, though).

I disagree with your definition, though I understand it

I assume you saw this? I really thought it was a nifty piece of writing from a guy who hasn't done much recently (not that he needed to).

I did better than read this.  I read the book.  It surprises you that  Dave is great?

You didn't ask which of the movies was the best or the funniest of all time; you just asked which was the best or funniest of the four choices. (Lawyer here.) I'm with you on Casablanca. However, I'd maintain that Monty Python and the Holy Grail is the funniest movie of all time.

Hm.   yeah, that case can be made.  But.... Dr. Strangelove.

In recent chats there has been discussion regarding the relationship between the brain and the subsequent 'triggering" of the poop response. Due to a cancer diagnosis, my large intestine was removed which caused a increase in elimination. During a time when my husband and I were experiencing some marital strife due to said diagnosis (young children/life expectancy less than 5 years/financial strain), I experienced an extreme need to evacuate each time he called me at work. It took me some time to figure out the pattern, and that it was a response to the intense dislike I felt for him at the time. We are stronger now, but Poop Brain is real.

I am publishing this because I believe it is true, and because I will never forget it.  If you have made it up, I will never forgive you.

You made me chose between Blazing Saddles and The Princess Bride‽ You monster.

Journalism is about Truth.

I missed last week's chat. I turned 21 in 1979 and always thought I got the best of both worlds when it came to music. You had all the 60's and early 70's faves like the Stones, Dead, Beatles, Dylan. Then you had other bands that started or became more popular in the mid-late 70's like, Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen, Led Zep, Eagles, The Band, Charlie Daniels Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac. Then the up an comers, plus Punk/New Wave: The Clash, Tom Petty, The Police, Elvis Costello, The Pretenders, Blondie, Talking Heads, the Ramones, Patty Smith. Not bad, right? Except there was DISCO and just total crap. Here is the dreck that was the top 10 songs of 1979: 1) My Sharona-The Knack, 2) Bad Girls-Donna Summer, 3) Le Freak-Chic, 4) Da Ya Think I'm Sexy-Rod Steward, 5) Reunited-Peaches & Herb, 6) I Will Survive-Gloria Gaynor, 7) Hot Stuff-Donna Summer, 8) YMCA-The Village People, 9) Ring My Bell-Anita Ward, 10) Sad Eyes-Robert John.

You have made me very unhappy.

...and doesn't it feel great to just be calm and normal? Of course, I'll fight to the death anyone who thinks albino broccoli is better than green broccoli. Gotta have standards.

God will forgive you for this, eventually.

but lemons are much better than limes. Limes leading the poll is due solely to the nefarious influence of Corona and Big Tequila, dammit!

I agree.

I take zero joy from the awful flooding in Nebraska and other places in the Midwest/Great Plains. I am ACTUALLY praying for them. But do you think a few more of these events and conservative voters will change their tune on climate change? If there's one voice louder than Fox News, it's Mother Nature's.


Lemons are much more versatile. But I like the taste of limes better. So there. Same with cauliflower and broccolili. Broccoli is just a green vegetable, and cauliflower can be mashed, made into pizza crust, etc.. But I still like broccoli better.

Well, you are pathetically wrong about that last thing. 

You know who else is HORRIBLE on cliches? That overrated Shakespeare guy. I mean his plays are RIDDLED with them, things like "to be or not to be", "brevity is the soul of wit", "conscience does make cowards of us all", etc. There are so many. /sarcasm off/

Thank you.  That is excellent.

Also, he invented "the eyeball." Very cliched.

I'd trade a recession for a Dem in office only because the Dems will reverse the recession very quickly - like Obama did after W. But that's also the problem. The recession was too quickly resolved and the American people did not "suffer" enough. Yes, I don't want people suffering but since the overall suffering was low, people quickly forgot fiscal responsibility and now we have him in office.

"We have him in office" Trumps all else.

I am re-submitting this question because the struggle is real. I recently switched to cruelty-free, all natural, vegan deodorant made from something like broccoli. I am not sure it works, and it leaves goop on my shirts. Should I keep using it and perhaps smell like broccoli, or should I be a horrible person who kills baby bunnies for big business deodorant mobsters?

If it smells like broccoli, kill bunnies.

.... absolutely know how lame I am. But Airplane! is still funnier.

They will diss you at your funeral.  Sorry.

Cauliflower pizza crust is an abomination. You've just made all of your other opinions moot.

Cauliflower pizza crust?  This is a thing?

You can make noodles from rice. Of course it's better than noodles. Sum, part, whole, yadda.

Excellent point!

I am a child of the 70s. So I was in my adolescence during the disco era. At the time I think I was generally in agreement with the "disco sucks" camp. But frankly looking back now, I feel like a lot of that music is really iconic and good. I mean, look at that 1979 list. So many great tracks. Le Freak is widely recognized by music people as a great song. I Will Survive! Ring My Bell! Sure the Donna Summer tracks are nor her best work. Maybe it's my gay genes talking but all of that boring 70s soft rock is nowhere near as fun as disco.

Wait, what?

Okay, let's start with the gay thing.   It is not relevant.

Regardless, you are saying you like disco because IT COMPARES WELL TO SOFT ROCK?



Boomer Humor


but i would rather marry princess bride - that's the humor i want to spend time with. strangelove exhausts me, like watching the cabinet of dr. caligari

I would urge you to watch it again.   Jaysus. 

The first four questions were a snap for me, but it took a long time to decide on the last. My question though, is there a reason you didn't include a Woody Allen flick, not that it would necessarily be my pick?

I have a column coming out -- i think next week -- about Woody Allen. 

It is complicated.

I guess in retrospect I answered the last question incorrectly due to not reading it carefully. Dr. Strangelove is clearly the "best" of that group in terms of cinematic arts. But gauged by laughs, Blazing Saddles is funnier. Too bad it is so much of it is (mostly rightly) unacceptable in today's climate. Princess Bride has some funny bits, but too many draggy parts.

I am going to try to find a scene in Strangelove in which the general discusses whether his rogue nuclear pilot might elude Russkies and annihilate the world.  Hang on.

It works as pure humor. It works as satire. It works on its deepest level as a withering indictment of racism. And, seriously, what the hell kind of "Humor in Film" class watches -one- movie in the entire class? Not to disparage "Dr. Strangelove" in the least; it's definitely one of my favorite movies. I even used a clip from it in my "Government Ethics" training (although, to be honest, I wanted to use a clip from "Blazing Saddles" too, but unfortunately Hedley Lamarr was fondling a statue of Blind Justice during the scene I wanted).

check this out.

If you need to put lemon on your fish, you have terrible fish.

This is completely insane.

The best comedy - not necessarily the funniest movie ever, but the best-written, best-acted comedy - is Tootsie.

I love that movie.

I am watching the movie.  I have jettisoned all chatological responsibilities.

I don't want any more chat.  I am watching a movie.  As you should be.

General Turgidson!

I am ending this chat.  It will be seen as a great moment in humor.

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Gene Weingarten
Gene Weingarten is the humor writer for The Washington Post. His column, Below the Beltway, has appeared weekly in the Post's Sunday magazine since July 2000 and has been distributed nationwide on The Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service. He was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.

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