Tuesday, October 3, 2017

"He Who Laughs Alone..."

… is seriously confused.

You’re a funny person.  You have a reputation for the reliable elicitation of laughter, although not in this particular sentence.  Professional “Funny People” are not funny all the time – that’s professional “annoying people.”  Professional “Funny People” are funny when they are trying to be, whereas two sentences ago, I was not trying to be, succeeding gloriously in my intent.

Professional “Funny People” have a higher-than-the-average-bear propensity for being funny.  Yet, sometimes, to their disorienting discombobulation, professional “Funny People”… aren’t.

And away we go.

While visiting nearby Santa Barbara, attending that celebration I alluded to yesterday, we had lunch at a restaurant my piano teacher recommended, explaining that it was Julia Child’s favorite local Mexican eatery.  It’s called La Super-Rica.

(It’s a “no-brainer” that when you get a “Four Star” recommendation from Julia Child and your own piano teacher, you go.)

From a structural standpoint, La Super-Rica is reminiscent of Johnny’s Italian Beef in Chicago – a non-descript, ramshackle structure.  If these two are a dependable indication, small, ramshackle structures serve exceptional food.  Unfortunately, they’re not.  Small, ramshackle strutures can go in either direction.  I have seen paramedics pumping stomachs outside small, ramshackle structures.  At least in my imagination.  (Which itself delivers mixed results.)

Like Johnny’s Italian Beef, La Super-Rica has a line of waiting customers, snaking outside the door and down the side of the premises.  We park our car – “We” being Dr. M., daughter Anna, and myself – assembling with anticipation and necessary patience at the back of the line.

Maybe I was nervous.  I am neither crazy about nor a connoisseur of Mexican cuisine.  As with “All (MEMBERS OF AN ETHNICITY OF WHICH I AM NOT) look alike”, all Mexican food, bears, for me, an unshakable similarity to “leftovers”… with rice and beans… sheathed in a hard or soft pancake.  I know that’s not true; call me a “Culinary Racist”, and we’ll leave it at that.

Perhaps my anxiety over what to order triggering my comedian’s “Funny Bone” when I saw a printed sign hanging in the restuarant’s window saying,


For those who don’t know – and also people who do“Abierto” means “Open.”  I know that because I took Spanish in college.  Making the following not ignorance, but, not wanting to brag but doing so anyway, an inspired silliness.

I imagine, when my turn comes, stepping up to the counter and anouncing to the man taking the orders,

“I’ll have the ‘Abierto’?”

Having discovered what I am convinced is “Comedy Gold”, I repeat the “I’ll have the  ‘Abierto’” bit excitedly to the family.

And they do not laugh at all.

“Doubling down” in hopes of a face-saving recovery, I courageously forge ahead, imagining a continuing conversation with the restaurant’s order-taker.

“I saw it advertised prominently in your window, so I imagine it is the ‘Specialty of the Casa.”  La Super-Rica’s famous ‘Abierto’, the finest ‘Abierto’ in all California and perhaps Mexico itself.”

The “addendum” gets nothing.  Beyond the growing irritation that I had not “gotten the message” and not sensibly moved on.

My choice now:  Give up, or dig the hole even deeper.  My determined strategy is the latter. 

“I know nothing about Mexican food, so I will need your advice about this.  Are ‘Abiertos’ large or are they small?  Meaning, should I order two ‘Abiertos’ or will one ‘Abierto’ suffice?

I am cracking myself up here. 

And I am entirely alone. 

In fact, I detect certain family members – who will remain unmentioned, possibly even in my will – sidling away from me, as if I am some lunatic hitchhiker they had picked up on the side of the highway, staked to a fancy, Mexican meal and would later deliver to some proximate “loony bin”, for his own good, and the safety of the community.
How do I react to this inexplicable rejection of incomparable improvisation?  I repeat the same thing, over and over.

“I’ll have the ‘Abeirto‘.”

“I’ll have the ‘Abierto’.

“I’ll have the ‘Abierto’.

As if, like some faulty mechanical device, if it doesn’t work the first time you keep trying until it does.  Although, for me, it works hysterically every time.

I imagine professional comedians have cherished, favorite jokes that have never gotten a laugh.  After a while, they leave those jokes out of their acts.  Jerry Seinfeld in not super-successful because he keeps in jokes that have never gotten a laugh.  I defy anyone to sit in the audience at one of his concerts, listening for a perceptible “dead spot” in his performance and going, “That’s the one.  And he just refuses to let it go.” 

He lets it go.

I, somehow, at least on occasion – that occasion being when I truly believe in a joke despite its continual negative reception – do not.

What do you think?

Has “Abierto” got any kind of a shot?  Or should I assiduously drop it from my impeccable repertoire?

A Final Note:  There is a certain point when a not funny joke remains in the game, earning begrudging acceptance due to the joke teller’s bizarre insistence and perseverance.  Maybe I can keep “Abierto” around, as “ The joke Dad thinks is really funny.”

I hope so. 

Because it is.

And sooner or later, I believe,

The world will belatedly… come around. 


Joe Freeman said...

Earl, I appreciate your humor. Although I might have added "...with a side of cerrado..."

JED said...

I liked the joke but I didn't have to stand next to you while you delivered it to someone who could have been the Taco Nazi.

I remember visiting friends in Germany and as they drove me to their apartment from the airport, I commented on how large the city of Ausfahrt must be to have so many exits off the Autobahn. They laughed because I really didn't know it meant Exit.

Mike T. said...

I have to side with the family on this one. I can see why you might have found it funny (as would I if I'd come up with it), but it just doesn't translate into laughs for others--especially when your joke would hold up a long line of customers. I do sympathize with your plight since I'm one of those people known for being funny and have delivered my share of bombs while trying to live up to my reputation.

At least you got a funny blog post out it.

Bubba Gump said...

Maybe "I'll have the abierto, Alberto!" Would have gotten a giggle?