Chris Rodell [00:00:00]:
Today, we'll be talking about what's so funny, and how maybe the smartest man in history was an idiot when it came to what's funny and what is not. We'll be talking about the ticklishness of rats and the sitcom history of the laugh track. Hi. I'm Chris Rodell. I've written stories and features for just about every major magazine or publication in America. This is the Use all the crayons podcast, where I'll share those colorful stories with you. First of all, because I believe everyone needs a good clean joke, let me tell you the story of Seamus and Angus. They were neighbors for a good long time and had never spoken.
Chris Rodell [00:00:31]:
Then one day, Angus saw Seamus standing by the fence and said, Seamus, I'm having a party tonight. I want you to come. But I gotta warn you, there's gonna be drinking, and it's gonna be rough. He goes, well, I've I've done my share of drinking. I can do that. Because then there's gonna be fighting, and it's gonna be rough. He goes, well, I can handle myself like that. And there's gonna be sex, and it's gonna be rough.
Chris Rodell [00:00:48]:
Yes. Well, that'll be fine too. Use, what should I wear? He goes, just what you're wearing is fine. Just give me the 2 of us.
Scott Levin [00:00:56]:
Hey. This is Scott Levin from Youngstown Grill. And in my opinion, this is the funniest line that Chris has ever written. If most If most men are being honest, a big if, we'd admit to seeing a lot of ourselves in Ken While aspiring to see just a little of ourselves in Barbie.
Chris Rodell [00:01:16]:
That that's your favorite?
Scott Levin [00:01:17]:
That is my favorite.
Chris Rodell [00:01:19]:
What about the line, Fans of the book fans of the band, the Grateful Dead, are called deadheads. What does that make those of us who revere the book Moby Dick?
Scott Levin [00:01:28]:
Also a good one.
Chris Rodell [00:01:30]:
How about this one as a riddle? If the invisible man eats a visible hoagie, how far into the digestive system does it go before it disappears?
Scott Levin [00:01:39]:
Yeah. That's not funny, but it's clever. It makes you think.
Chris Rodell [00:01:46]:
I've said truthfully that I have nothing to do with raising our kids until they were advanced enough to get my jokes. That means that other than my rather bystander role in the orgasmic conception, I I was sort of an absentee parent until they were each was about 4 years old and capable of understanding the construction of your basic knock knock joke. Like this. Knock knock. Who's there? Denise. Denise who? Denise are above the ankles. Boom. Now to a 4 year old, that is The height of wit and sophistication.
Chris Rodell [00:02:15]:
Better, I'd usually repeat the joke with my audience of 1 on my lap and with emphatic tickling time to hit the punchline. The result was peals of joyful laughter and adoring cries that daddy was hilarious. Those days are long gone. I know I'll never tell another joke with an adoring daughter sitting on my lap. Well, not one of my daughters. See that too right there, that was a joke. An unwise All considered joke, but a joke nonetheless. I mentioned all All because I just learned that the composition of the joke of The of history's most intelligent men, he thought it was the funniest thing he'd ever heard, and it's not that funny.
Chris Rodell [00:02:48]:
But to Albert Einstein, the peerless genius, it is comedy gold. The e equals m c squared of humor. I learned it from a previously referenced 1996 Dennis Bryan book called Einstein, a Life. Here goes. Guy has his car towed to a mechanic, says it just shut down, dead on the street. Can he fix it? Mechanic looks at the car, circles it 2 times, The gives it a mighty kick by the right front fender. It works. The car is purring like a kitten.
Chris Rodell [00:03:13]:
Owner says, thanks. What do I owe you? Mechanic says that'll be $200. Owner says $200? Outrageous. All you did was kick it. I'd like to see an itemized bill detailing just how you justify $200 for kicking the car. Mechanic scribbles on the blank piece of paper and hands it over. Paper says labor, $1 to kick car. Knowing where to kick car, $199.
Chris Rodell [00:03:39]:
Hello? Is this thing on? Arnold Palmer used to come here.
Chris Rodell [00:03:45]:
What did he like to get?
Scott Levin [00:03:46]:
French toast. He liked it so much that he asked for the recipe, and he started doing it at Bay Hill in Orlando.
Chris Rodell [00:03:53]:
Was he ever unruly here?
Scott Levin [00:03:56]:
Chris Rodell [00:03:58]:
Tell me the story about
Scott Levin [00:03:59]:
Jerry Jerry a couple times ago.
Chris Rodell [00:04:02]:
Chris Rodell [00:04:03]:
the story about when, Tom Ridge was here with, Arnold Palmer.
Scott Levin [00:04:07]:
So back in the beginning, about 8 years ago, Things were very slow here. Arnold Palmer came in with, Governor Ridge and which is, you know, surprising. It's nice, and and they were wearing their On the lapel, they had the Arizona iced tea pins. And my son, who was probably 18 at the time, comes out and Dad, those 2 guys are wearing Arizona iced tea pins. I'm like, well, that's because it's Arnold Palmer. And and my son obviously is, well, was an artist and Yeah. Into music and and very successful and not into sports, whatsoever. But when he worked here, eventually, Arnold got sick, and we used to start delivering to his house.
Scott Levin [00:04:55]:
And My son realized him what that meant and who he was and definitely, what he meant to the area. And he said on his Facebook, I never post about my other job, which is Yeah. The restaurant, but I'm It's cool. I Delivered to Arnold Palmer today.
Chris Rodell [00:05:09]:
Yeah. So Have you ever had any fights in here? Other than me being involved? No.
Chris Rodell [00:05:19]:
I've often wondered how authentic it was the laughter from the apostles when Jesus cracked wise. I bet it was similar to scenes from The Sopranos when Tony told a funny to the gang down at the old bada bing. Good one, boss. We don't know if Jesus ever joked. I like to think he did. I love to laugh, and I love being around people who make me laugh. In the Bible, he seems the stoic, but the Bible has 0 laughs. There's nothing funny about it.
Chris Rodell [00:05:41]:
So in that regard, the Bible can be compared to the 6th season run enjoyed by the CBS stories, 2 broke girls. It'd be neat to see if some biblical scholars said they found scriptural evidence that while hanging on the cross right before he said, Father, forgive them. They know not what they do. Jesus tugged at his collar of his robe and said, I tell you, I just don't get no respect. Oh, tough crowd. Does it matter if Einstein admired a dumb joke above so many good ones? I think it does. Calls into question all his scientific and life achievements. If he thinks the lame joke is funny, where else has he fallen off the the bean? After all, he was alive during a time when the world was swollen with herbane humor, thoughtful wit, And I mean, swollen.
Chris Rodell [00:06:19]:
Black and blue too. Many will say stooge humor is too stupid for Einstein, and he'd have been drawn to something much more cerebral. I contend the stooges were the most cerebral act in Hollywood history. The action never went more than 30 seconds without one or the other of them getting bashed in the brain. Talk about cerebral. You get it? For the record, the 5 funniest movies of all time are Zombieland, Big Lebowski, Hot Fuzz, Slapshot, Young Frankenstein, and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. I know that's 6, but I couldn't leave The of them out. Researchers are giving one of the world's most loathsome creatures a playful makeover.
Chris Rodell [00:06:58]:
We now know that rats are ticklish. And I thought all they did was scamper through sewer pipes to spread things like plague, rat ticklers, and isn't that an awesome job description, At the Barnstein Center For Computational Neuroscience in Berlin found that rats relish a good tickle. They said the tickled rats submitted detectable laughter, or jump for joy and squeak the rat equivalent of more, more, more. Makes me wonder what the scholarly reaction had been if researchers had taken things a step further and given a little rat hand job. They say the studies are important because they reinforce the notion that laughter and play are essential to all healthy animals, Human animals included. Ticklishness, they say, may be hardwired in all of us, a trick of the brain to make animals and humans play or interact on a fun level. With that in mind, I'm thinking of altering my standard street corner how do you do? Instead of my usual 2 pump manly firm handshake, I'm going to quick as lightning, reach up under the greeter's shirt, and go right for the armpit. As an experienced tickler, I find that as the most ticklish spot on a vertical human being. If The armpit is well defended.
Chris Rodell [00:08:00]:
I go for the hip protrusion. The key is speed, surprise, and vigor. Depending on the rigidity of the tickle subject, you might want to use a knuckle. I ought to know. My tickle techniques are taught in school. I learned this a few years ago from my then 6 year old daughter. Any father of author, especially, who isn't a tickle expert simply hasn't read the daddy playbook. A well tickled daughter is a joyful daughter.
Chris Rodell [00:08:21]:
I have 2 of them. For years, both would whenever they were told to raise their right hands, instinctively place their left hand over their exposed armpit to prevent a sneak tickle attack. I guess the little ones were on playground discussing ticklishness. They all said they were ticklish to various degrees. My daughter admitted, Use. She was a wee bit ticklish. An innocent friend made the mistake of lightly running her fingers up my daughter's arm. That's not how you tickle, she said.
Chris Rodell [00:08:43]:
Here, I'll show you. The way she described it made it sound like martial arts exhibition. The arm went up. A chin drove into the rib cage. Dust flew. It was full contact tickle. If the kid wasn't laughing so hard, she'd surely have been treated for trauma. God could America use a good tickling right now.
Chris Rodell [00:08:20]:
I haven't seen so much bickering among Americans since, Speaking of rats, Sopranos finale. I wish I could help. I wish I could 1 by 1 take every American and give you all the kind of cathartic tickling that reminds us how great it is to just let it all go? I wish I had the guts to apply some tickle therapy to grabby strangers I see on the streets, but we all know what would happen. The strangers would react with disheveled fury. They'd be incensed. The liberals would stab me with their safety pins. The conservatives would unholster their concealed firearms and orphan my daughters right there on the stories, All because I wanted to make the world a happier place. Rats.
Chris Rodell [00:09:37]:
What's what's the best item here at the grill?
Scott Levin [00:09:39]:
Well, for some odd reason, we're known for giant pancakes, but, The best item here at the grill is probably our Reuben.
Chris Rodell [00:09:47]:
What's the 1 item that people don't order enough of that you think people should order?
Scott Levin [00:09:52]:
Something that's Under like, underrated here would probably be our chicken Parmesan sandwich. Yeah.
Chris Rodell [00:09:58]:
When are you gonna put eggs Benedict on the menu? Never. Is that just to spite me?
Scott Levin [00:10:02]:
Yes. Well, it see, I don't believe in doing things incorrect.
Chris Rodell [00:10:07]:
If you could own another kind of restaurant, which kind of restaurant would you own?
Scott Levin [00:10:11]:
One that's only open 2 days a week.
Chris Rodell [00:10:14]:
What's the biggest pain in the ass about working here
Scott Levin [00:10:17]:
or running it? The repetitiveness Yeah. And and, yeah, and and the and the time put in. You're never I'm never really off.
Chris Rodell [00:10:25]:
There's always work to do. Do you is it rewarding when people could tell you how much they like coming here?
Scott Levin [00:10:31]:
Yeah. Yes. And when people buy a t shirt Or a hat or a mug, and it's very rewarding.
Chris Rodell [00:10:39]:
Yeah. I've had people I've been wearing Youngstown Grill shirts for a long time, and I've had people ask me if I own the Restaurant. And did you tell him yes? I say I own the T shirt. Anything else you wanna say? No.
Scott Levin [00:10:52]:
But no one's a ever asked me if I wrote the books on the shelf.
Chris Rodell [00:10:55]:
I plan to spend tomorrow commemorating the 2003 death of Charles Douglas by laughing my merry ass off. I'll chortle, giggle, titter, guffaw, hoot, howl, cackle, and generally spend the day behaving like I'm being tickled by invisible feathers? Douglas died 12 years ago at the age of 93. His funeral was a sad one. I think Douglas would have disapproved. His funeral, above all others, should have been a laugh riot. Douglas was the father of the modern laugh track. From the late 19 fifties well into 19 eighties, Douglas was responsible for mechanically producing nearly all laughter for America's golden age sitcoms. TV Guide profiled him and said in 1966, he built a monopolistic empire on canned laughs.
Chris Rodell [00:11:39]:
Douglas's recorded laughs are uncredited costars of Bewitched, The mMunsters, I Dream of Jeannie, The Beverly Hillbillies, Lucy, and The Dick Van Dyke Show. It was very expensive, but apparently less costly than producing anything that generally was funny on its own. Cheers was filmed before a live studio audience, except when it wasn't. Every episode of Cheers, one of my all time favorites, Kicked off with those words, a good housekeeping seal of approval that verified laughs we're about to hear were genuine. Problem is Douglas's tickling fingerprints are all over cheers. Same goes for Frasier, Barney Miller, The Bob Newhart show, Taxi, and a host of others. Many of The supposedly taped live shows are artificially sweetened by what is known in Hollywood as Douglass' mysterious laugh box. Want to hear something funny? The laughs over the years were the same.
Chris Rodell [00:12:24]:
Many of the laughs you still hear on today's shows were harvested from decades ago that or simply replayed? So a truly discerning listener could conceivably go back and detect the same precise laugh from the same man or woman who laughed one time at a show that today is 40 years old? The humor changes. The laughs do not. I became hypersensitive to laugh tracks, I guess, when I started being bludgeoned by the ones Disney Channel uses on shows designed to appeal to girls like our young daughters were. The only ones not laughing were the intended target audience right there in the room. Thris blatant manipulation was infuriating. They were watching something because they thought it was funny even when they all reflexively understood. They were watching something that wasn't funny at all. As a father, it was upsetting.
Chris Rodell [00:13:06]:
It was upsetting too as a hockey fan because I wanted to throw their asses the hell out of the room so I could watch the The Penguin game. Does the laugh track make something funny even when it's not? Seinfeld may be the funniest show ever. It uses a heavy, but deaf laugh track. Would it be as funny without? I think so. Curb Your Enthusiasm, its sort of alter ego, Uses none, but it's every bit as funny. Would this podcast be funnier if it had a course of gigglers to prompt you when you supposed to chuckle? Maybe it'd be worth a
Chris Rodell [00:13:35]:
Chris Rodell [00:13:37]:
They gave the death sentence for killing time. Could you live forever? Podiatrists with empty appointment calendars are light on their feet. I refuse to be swept up in cynicism. I believe our best days remain ahead of us. There will still be conflict, but in the future, our wars will be fought with farts. It is entirely possible to kick a squirrel right in the nuts and hurt only his feeling. Hers too.
Chris Rodell [00:14:24]:
Chris Rodell [00:14:24]:
I told you it was funny. If you enjoy the podcast, we urge you to complete the podcast road to success triathlon of share rate review. Be sure to tell all your friends and urge them to tell all their friends. Thanks to our friends at Headspace Media All Latrobe for making the podcast happen. We're eager to grow the audience, of course, but if the growth never extends beyond the 3rd floor here at the Latrobe Rafferty building in the heart of latrobe, I'm still considered a success. Thanks to Robindale Energy for their gracious and essential support. Come visit us right here in the scenic Laurel Highlands. Check out what's happening at go laurel Highlands.com.
Scott Levin [00:15:03]:
Learn the fine art of knowing precisely when to quit. Thank you. Yes.