Definition of one variety of “Stupid Comedy”: “The repetition of some nonsensical observation, phrase or grouping of words, such that the effect of that nonsensical observation, phrase or grouping of words, through grinding repetition, gradually builds, becoming stupider and stupider, and as result, funnier and funnier.”
Prominent practitioners of this variety of “Stupid Comedy”: David Letterman, “Me, Al Franken” before he became a senator, and now, in an effort to fly with these Wallendas of “Stupid Comedy”,
So here we go.
There’s a neighborhood bistro (as if I actually know what that means) near our house that is called La Grande Orange. At least, it was called La Grande Orange for the first almost year of existence, after which it abruptly changed its name to the M Street Kitchen. (The bistro is located on Main Street; hence, I imagine, the “M.”)
Absolutely nothing else about the restaurant has changed. Not the layout, not the décor, not the menu, not the prices. It is exactly the same bistro.
But with a different name.
As part of a birthday present arrangement, where I eschew gifts in favor of one-on-one interactions, my stepdaughter Rachel, fulfilling the back end of the “hike-out-to-breakfast” combo, treats me to brunch at the, now, M Street Kitchen, where I order my “usual” – oatmeal, a “side” of fresh fruit, and coffee.
The waitress delivers our order. After waiting for a moment for it to cool down, I dig into the oatmeal. I savor it. And I immediately announce:
“The oatmeal was better at La Grande Orange.”
I have now executed “Step One” of “Stupid Comedy.” The oatmeal is exactly the same as at La Grande Orange. Because it’s exactly the same oatmeal. However, since the restaurant has changed its name, I am behaving, for comedic purposes, as if it were an entirely different operation.
Hence, my unfavorable comparison of the oatmeal at the M Street Kitchen versus La Grande Orange. Even though it’s exactly…the same oatmeal.
“Stupid Comedy – Step One” is rewarded with a smile of comprehension from Rachel. She gets the joke. Though she has no idea what’s coming.
I proceed to sample the “side” of fresh fruit, taking a moment to adjudicate, and then reporting:
“The fresh fruit was fresher at La Grande Orange.”
“Stupid Comedy – Step Two.” Met with an identifiably jollier response. The alchemy is having its effect.
I pick up my cup, and take a sip of the coffee. (These actions take place a few minutes apart, the separation being essential to the successful execution of “Stupid Comedy.”) A moment, for the flavor to engage my palate. Then, inevitably:
“I preferred the coffee at La Grande Orange.”
Being a down-to-earth kind of woman, Rachel greets “Stupid Comedy – Step Three” with, not yet another escalation in amusement, but a mock exasperated rolling of the eyes. Not the reaction one was hoping for, perhaps, but she’s having a good time.
“Stupid Comedy” has completed its agenda. It has burrowed under the skin, and has brought joy and happiness to its intended audience. Or something relatively close.
Flash Forward: Two or so Weeks Later.
It is the week of Passover. Bowing to my minimal commitment to religious observance, I am abstaining from eating bread for eight days. It is now Day Six, and I am weary of the available matzo and matzo-related comestibles. I decide to go out for lunch.
I take a walk to the M Street Kitchen.
I know what I want, one of the few items on the menu that does not involve bread or non-kosher components, such as bacon or crustaceans, like shrimp. (This represents the second of my “I’m a Jew” Trifecta, the third being fasting on Yom Kippur. After that, I’m as heathen as the next guy.)
I order the “Sonoma Salad”, with chicken.
The waitress immediately informs me that the “Sonoma Salad” is available, but the “with chicken” is not, due to the restaurant’s grill being unavailable, as it is currently under repair. This also means, no hamburgers (without the bun), no chicken or fish tacos (without the tortillas), in short, there is virtually nothing left on the menu I can order.
Except for one dish, which I know I won’t like, because it’s too spicy for me. A concoction from Thailand. Left with no other option, I order that.
The waitress delivers my order, I eat it, and I don’t like it. It’s too spicy for me.
When the check arrives, I casually ask the waitress when the grill’s going to be fixed.
“Oh. It’s fine now,” she replies.
Her answer reverberates in my head:
It’s fine now.”
“Hm”, I am thinking.
This never happened at La Grande Orange.