Friday, September 16, 2005


1) Best Grouch Marx sequence ever:
Somewhat rotund older socialite lady he is dating to get her money: "Hold me closer! Closer!"
Groucho: "If I were any closer I'd be behind you."

2) Ron of Counterintuitive writes of a spate of crank calls and his self-defined not-so-snappy comeback:
I was just about to leave to pick up my two older kids from art class; I was already five minutes late and the prank caller had called earlier when I was simultaneously trying to grill peppers, cook corn, cut up a tomatoe, and instruct my daughter in proper table setting. So at this point I was getting a bit irritated with prankster joe. Once I realized it was yet again the prankster, making me even later, I really wanted to scare them off so they wouldn’t call again. And, might you wonder, what did I come up with? Was it something like Moe would say to Bart:

"Listen, you lousy bum, if I ever get a hold of you, I swear I'll cut your belly open!"

Or "It's you isn't it ya cowardly little runt? When I get a hold of you, I'm gonna gut you like a fish and drink your blood!"

No, not exactly. Instead I somehow came up with this: "Listen, stop calling or I'm going to really be here."

What in THE hell does that mean? They/re probably still shaking in their boots. I can’t believe I had nothing better than that. What happened?!? Performance anxiety? Fear of offending their parents if they turned out to be the Mormon Relief Society President’s kids? Inability to summon vigorous manly anger? If only they will call back so I can really stick it to them. I think I will use Moe’s "cowardly little runt" phrase and then go into a tirade about how I'm a working father with kids and dinner in the oven. Surely they will then shake in their boots and feel terribly sorry for adding stress to my already stressful evening (permalink).
Aside from the fact that I think that the response was rather creative and probably scared them into incoherence, I have to say that I have always wanted to have the snappy comeback line myself. I admire people like Groucho Marx, his pale imitation (second time I've used that phrase today!) Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H*, Mae West, Noel Coward, William Powell (of the Thin Man series, or the great W.C. Fields for their ability to respond with the snappy comeback that completely disarms their interlocutor, or at least makes you laugh. Now I think I've had a slight amount of success doing this in the past, but every occasion escapes me now, and the only thing I can think of is this: one time I was at the Avenues liquor store buying a particularly tasty bottle of wine for, as I recall, what turned out to be a particularly tasty dinner date. I was infatuated by the woman I had just started dating and wanted to impress her with my culinary talents. While climbing the stairs to go into Smiths and buy the rest of the meal, this tottering old guy standing on the landing started chanting "Somebody's got a bottle! Somebody's got a bottle!" over and over until I reached him. I then stopped, turned and said "Somebody's got to shut the fuck up," turned, and climbed the rest of the stairs to the store.

Now that's snappy, eh? Ron puts me to absolute shame.


  1. Listen, your comeback is dang snappy--you recycled part of the original comment as you took it in another direction. I admire it, just as I also admire Ron's postmodern one. You guys got nothing to be ashamed of in the snappy dept.

  2. Yea for the Thin Man! If I could be William Powell and Dr. Write Myrna Loy. Now I want to go rewatch all of the Thin Man films.