Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The universality of slapstick

My 4 1/2 year-old nephew called me this evening to talk. He was in the midst of a litany of his favorite toys, when his conversation took a sharp left turn into comedy.

Already a Star Wars fan, he was describing "blue saber Luke," a sort of Fisher-Price-style inaction figure. They're soft plastic characters who spend their lives in one pose, assuming that they don't get left in the car window. (see the picture) The inaction figure in question represents Luke Skywalker from "The Empire Strikes Back," who is wearing a black glove because, according to young Jonah, "He got shot in his hand and so he has to wear a glove to make it better."

All of the sudden, the Jonah-Man pops out with, "And his belt came off, so he lost his pants."

Me (incredulous): He lost his pants?

Jonah (voice cracking with giggles): Yeah! And I could see he had on pineapple underwear!

Me: He lost his pants and he had on pineapple underwear?

Jonah (voice quivering as he cracks up, making him sound a bit like a sheep): Y-e-a-h !

None of us can figure out where that came from, but as we all know, it is universally hysterical when some guy's pants descend, revealing pineapple-print underpants. I'm not sure why, exactly. Maybe it's the embarrassment factor. Maybe it's the utter wrongness of not only seeing something that is intended to be hidden, but something that is so unexpectedly festive in its decoration. Maybe it's just the sheer glee of saying forbidden things like "underwear." Whatever it is, hee-hee-hee, it sure is funny! Snort!

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