Archive for ‘Humor’

August 12, 2019

Fearsome Critters

Jackalope

In early lumberjack folklore, fearsome critters are fantastical beasts that were said to inhabit the frontier wilderness of North America, such as  the jackalope, a rabbit with the antlers of an antelope. Fearsome critters were an integral part of oral tradition in North America lumber camps during the turn of the 20th century, principally as a means to pass time (such as in tall tales) or as a jest for hazing newcomers.

In a typical fearsome critter gag, a person would casually remark about a strange noise or sight they encountered in the wild; subsequently, another accomplice would join in. Meanwhile, an eavesdropper would begin to investigate.

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July 28, 2019

Slapstick

Slapstick is a style of humor involving exaggerated physical activity. The term arises from a device developed during the broad, physical comedy style known as commedia dell’arte in 16th-century Italy.

The ‘batacchio’ or ‘bataccio’ (lit. ‘slap stick’) consists of two thin slats of wood, which make a ‘slap’ when striking another actor, with little force needed to make a loud—and comical—sound. The physical slap stick remains a key component of the plot in the traditional and popular ‘Punch and Judy’ puppet show. Along with the inflatable bladder (of which the whoopee cushion is a modern variant), it was among the earliest special effects.

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July 11, 2019

Scunthorpe Problem

Dirty Words

The Scunthorpe problem is the unintentional blocking of websites, e-mails, forum posts, or search results by a spam filter or search engine because their text contains a string of letters that appear to have an obscene or otherwise unacceptable meaning. Names, abbreviations, and technical terms are most often cited as being affected by the issue.

The problem arises since computers can easily identify strings of text within a document, but interpreting words of this kind requires considerable ability to interpret a wide range of contexts, possibly across many cultures, which is an extremely difficult task. As a result, broad blocking rules may result in false positives affecting innocent phrases.

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April 22, 2019

Gritty

Gritty is the official mascot for the Philadelphia Flyers National Hockey League (NHL) team. He is a 7-foot furry orange creature with googly eyes who wears Flyers’ gear. Gritty has been compared to the Phillie Phanatic, the mascot for the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team.

He was created by Brian Allen of Flyland Designs with help from David Raymond, the first man to portray the Phillie Phanatic. Gritty was introduced on September 24, 2018. According to his official biography, Gritty emerged after construction at the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers’ home arena, disturbed his secret hideout. Within the months following his debut, he became an internet sensation and made appearances on several talk shows.

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January 22, 2019

Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!

Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! is a weekly news-based radio panel show produced by WBEZ in Chicago and National Public Radio (NPR). On the program, panelists and contestants are quizzed in humorous ways about that week’s news.

The show is recorded in front of a live audience in Chicago at the Chase Auditorium beneath the Chase Tower on Thursday nights and typically airs weekend mornings.

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January 6, 2019

Super Dave Osborne

Bob Einstein

Super Dave Osborne was a character created and played by comedian Bob Einstein. Einstein’s comedic depiction is of a naive but optimistic stuntman who frequently appears injured when his stunts go spectacularly wrong.

Super Dave is billed as an ‘accomplished’ stuntman, though he rarely succeeds when performing the stunts depicted on-screen. Typically the character will perform outrageous daredevil stunts which often go disastrously awry and result in the appearance of grievous bodily injury. These include such mishaps as riding inside the hub of a giant yo-yo suspended from a crane (the yo-yo broke free of its string and rolled off a cliff into a ravine) and being flung by a catapult inside a giant football (the catapult malfunctioned and ‘spiked’ the football instead of throwing it). After such a mishap, Super Dave would usually appear torn apart, stretched, or otherwise injured.

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January 2, 2019

Pennsyltucky

Santorum

Pennsyltucky is a slang portmanteau of the state names Pennsylvania and Kentucky. It is used to characterize—usually humorously, but sometimes deprecatingly—the rural part of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania outside the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia metropolitan areas, more specifically applied to the local people and culture of its mountainous central Appalachian region.

The term is used more generally to refer to the Appalachian region, particularly its central core, which runs from Pennsylvania to Kentucky, and its people. An actual connection between the two regions was formed after numbers of Western Pennsylvanians left the state for Kentucky following the Whiskey Rebellion.

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December 26, 2018

Alternative Comedy

 Upright Citizens Brigade

Alternative comedy is a term coined in the 1980s for a style of comedy that makes a conscious break with the mainstream comedic style of an era. The phrase has had different connotations in different contexts. In the UK, it was used to describe content which was an ‘alternative’ to the mainstream of live comedy, which often involved racist and sexist material.

In other contexts, it is the nature of the form that is ‘alternative,’ avoiding reliance on a standardized structure of a sequence of jokes with punchlines. American comedian Patton Oswalt has defined it as ‘comedy where the audience has no pre-set expectations about the crowd, and vice versa. In comedy clubs, there tends to be a certain vibe—alternative comedy explores different types of material.’

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December 10, 2018

Belsnickel

Belsnickel is a crotchety, fur-clad Christmas gift-bringer figure in the folklore of the Palatinate region of southwestern Germany along the Rhine, the Saarland, and the Odenwald area of Baden-Württemberg. The figure is also preserved in Pennsylvania Dutch communities.

Belsnickel is related to other companions of Saint Nicholas in the folklore of German-speaking Europe. He may have been based on another older German myth, ‘Knecht Ruprecht,’ a servant of Saint Nicholas, and a character from northern Germany. Unlike those figures, Belsnickel does not accompany Saint Nicholas but instead visits alone and combines both the threatening and the benign aspects which in other traditions are divided between the Saint Nicholas and the companion figure.

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November 7, 2018

Tube Man

Peter Minshall

tube man, also known as a ‘skydancer,’ ‘air dancer,’ and originally called the ‘Tall Boy,’ is an inflatable moving advertising product comprising a long fabric tube (with two or more outlets), which is attached to and powered by an electrical fan. As the electrical fan blows air through the fabric tube, this causes the tube to move about in a dynamic dancing or flailing motion.

The design of the tube man was invented by Peter Minshall, an artist from Trinidad and Tobago, along with a team that included Israeli artist Doron Gazit, for the 1996 Summer Olympics. Gazit eventually patented the concept of an inflatable, dancing human-shaped balloon and licensed the patent to various companies that manufacture and sell the devices.

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November 5, 2018

Dumb Starbucks

Nathan Fielder

Dumb Starbucks is the fifth episode of the second season of the American television docu-reality comedy series ‘Nathan for You,’ and the thirteenth overall episode of the series. Written by series co-creators Nathan Fielder and Michael Koman, as well as Dan Mintz, it first aired on Comedy Central in 2014.

In the series, Fielder plays an off-kilter version of himself, who tries to use his business background and experiences to help struggling companies and people, offering them strategies that no traditional business consultant would dare.

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October 3, 2018

Florida Man

Florida Man is an Internet meme that typically consists of links to news stories and articles about unusual or strange crimes or events occurring in Florida, particularly those where the headline refers to the subject as ‘Florida Man,’ calling attention to Florida’s apparent notoriety for strange and unusual activity. It also implies that the consumer is to consider this ‘Florida Man’ to be an individual wreaking havoc rather than multiple people being referred to by the same title.

‘Miami New Times’ noted that freedom of information laws in Florida make it easier for journalists to obtain information about arrests from the police than in other states and that this is responsible for the large number of news articles.

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