Human Funniness Hormone

Recently, I reported on a ground-breaking story that had the potential to change the face of editorial pages around the globe. It concerned the invention of a new steroid; one that could make a non-humorous person the life of the party. This substance is referred to as HFH (Human Funniness Hormone) and is injected into the rear of the candidate. This injection would cause inhumane amounts of pain, often forcing the candidate to scream random phrases in an un-detectible dialect. Many highly-trained comedians (when I say “highly trained” I mean “largely intoxicated”) considered this panic-induced yell to be an immediate onslaught of Turrets’ Syndrome, rather than a humorous gesture. Thus voting members of the American Association of Silly Simians (AASS) have declared this steroid illegal and punishable by a five year banishment to Des Moines area comedy clubs. When Dave Barry, founding father of AASS, was asked to comment on the severity of the punishment, he offered only a short reply: “I think Des Moines is in Iowa, but I’ve never been on the Artic Continent, so I can’t tell you much about it.”

In an effort to inform readers of this controversy, I intended to write a thorough and well-researched article that would be regarded as the highest output of journalistic integrity that I’ve manufactured to date; so I went straight to the phones and called a few well known comedians for interviews about this controversy. First on the list was Jerry Seinfeld. When questioned about his alleged use of HFH, Mr. Seinfeld replied curtly: “Who are you? How did you get this number?” For the sake of America’s youth, I cannot disclose the remainder of his comments, as his momentary outburst of uncontrollable swearing is still giving me night-sweats. After my discussion with Jerry, I phoned the loveable Danny Tanner; known by his real life name—Bob Saget. His comment was even more vicious and flatulent, yet at the end he muttered that his “hiny” was sore and had to find a soft pillow on which to sit.

The only individual who would give me an honest reply was former Vice-President Al Gore. He offered a very informative discussion in which he expounded on the negative effects of HFH, such as impotence and the loss of an inner monologue. After about forty-five minutes, I thanked him for his time and quietly hung up the phone. He had just finished explaining that if a person were to use his invention known as the “Internet” to look up jokes and research the art of being funny, one could become the life of said “party” (quotations are his) without resorting to intravenous drug use. After my short parlay into the political realm, I still needed more information, so I continued down the list of compatriot comedians. I asked each of them if they had at one time succumbed to the temptation of HFH, and their replies were almost identical: “Call again when you get published!”

My research for this well-informed article was coming together, but I needed a scientific opinion. I considered performing an old-fashioned science experiment wherein I compile a list of poor folks (also known as college students) who would be willing to be injected in the glutinous region with a large needle containing a mysterious clear liquid for a small amount of money. However, I was rejected by every individual questioned (except for Dave Chappelle, he’ll try anything). The majority of respondents thought it was some practical joke by the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, Mr. Bud Selig. I tried to convince them that Mr. Selig has never told a joke in his life, but no one would listen. My last option to provide scientific data for this article was to break into the lab that developed HFH and take snapshots of incriminating data. This plan failed for two reasons: 1) I don’t have a camera; and 2) I’m not sure what the word “incriminating” means.

Despite my inability to complete the story with that final, incriminating piece of evidence, the information speaks for itself. HFH does cause immediate bouts of voracious swearing fits followed by painful swelling in the rear end. I have no idea if it actually makes you funnier. While we’re on this topic, let me take a moment to educate you by discussing a phenomenon that is absolutely not funny. While performing tax-deductible research for my story at a baseball game—I wanted to see if the painful side-effects of HFH injections were similar to the steroid injections used by baseball players—I overheard a conversation between two young girls. One of them made a sincere effort at a joke, and if I were a thirteen year old boy with a face that looks like a pickle, I might have chuckled a bit. The other girl found the comment quite funny, but instead of laughing until milk squirted out of her nose like teenagers did in my day, she said, “L-O-L”. It was more meaningful to spell out the acronym L-O-L (internet lingo that stands for “Laugh Out Loud”) than to actually laugh out loud. This confused me terribly. Has society deteriorated to the point that we speak personally to each other in the instant message language? I’m not sure I can handle this. The next thing you know I’m going to be at a book signing at Barnes and Noble when a person comes up to me, and instead of speaking to me, writes a note that says, “Who r u? What do u no bout LOL?” My only comfort will be in knowing that my chair is heavily padded.

This on-going trend towards futuristic living deeply confuses me, not only when it comes to human conversation, but also everyday living. I’m very concerned that one day Dippin Dots will take over as the main source of ice cream in the U.S., probably due to a hostile takeover at a dairy farm. Coke floats will lose out to the newly popular “vegetable float”, a drink that combines pureed veggies with a non-fat sherbet. And quite possibly the most horrendous development of the future concerns the early season success of a women’s high school basketball team in South Dakota, known as the Jack Rabbits–“Jacks” for short. The Lady Jacks should not be getting off to a good start.

Reality TV Bites

I decided that I’m going to do something purely in the interest of cultural edification. And not solely for the tax-deductibility reasons either! You may be asking yourself if I have completely gone whacko or if I’ve finally decided to grow up and do something for the good of humanity. You’re thinking I could do something like donate my savings to charity, become a volunteer coach at a boys’ club, or join Green Peace. If you guessed any of those options, you don’t know me at all. Those of you who know me a little better are probably hoping that I’ve decided it would be in the public’s best interest if I took a rocket to Mars. I’m sorry to dash your dreams, but I’ll be staying on this planet until they figure out how to transport us to Saturn. I’ve always wanted to get a close look at those rings; plus, I’m dying to ask someone there how they mastered the art of low pressure car sales!

Instead of giving my time and money to a cause that merely helps people, I’m going to do something that will impact this world on an even larger scale. I’m going to write a television show! Don’t go all negative on my idea yet; just because you’ve read my writing doesn’t prove that I’m a horrible writer. Besides, thanks to the wondrous invention that is reality TV, creativity and the art of writing are no longer necessary! I have a wonderful idea, too, and it’s a ton better than any show Fox (Any Show You Can Do, We Can Copy) can put out. Most people are beginning to think that ideas for reality shows are being quickly exhausted and are becoming wary of shows that pay people to eat bugs, pay people to make fun of them, and pay brides to let people watch them get dumped while standing on an Alaskan shoreline. At least those shows are better than the ones that follow a neurotic cosmetics owner whose lesbian daughter just got dumped by the man of her dreams while at the same time finding out that she got pregnant by her girlfriend’s husband. The woman later finds out that her daughter isn’t really her daughter; but her long lost half-sister who is out to avenge the murder of their estranged father. I apologize to any All My Children fans for giving away the story.

Despite the gruesomeness of many reality television shows, it is currently a very popular genre; thus it is a very profitable genre. Consider some of the reality shows on TV this season: So You Think You Can Dance (which Fox stole from a Saturday Night Live skit starring Chris Farley), The Gauntlet (MTV may have created the original reality series—but they killed it with this one), and Fear Factor (poor Joe Rogan must have become afraid of acting). After careful consideration, I have developed my idea into a stunning presentation for any of the major networks, except for Fox. They’ll just steal it a year later anyway.

My idea came from a very simple revelation. I was in a meeting with my new boss and all of a sudden I thought it would be funny to dare him to sniff paint fumes. I thought he might go for it, considering he had recently moved to Iowa. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any paint in the office, because he was actually interested! Since then, he’s encouraged me to be creative in the ways that I make fun of him. One time I asked him for payment if he wanted to hear my latest crack; he pulled out his wallet. This got me to thinking, what if there was a show where people come on it and pay money to get made fun of? You may not think that will work, because who would want to pay to go on television to get made fun of? You probably wouldn’t come on my show, but you probably also wouldn’t go on the Jenny Jones show and tell the world about your compulsive shoplifting addiction either. I’ll tell you who will come on my show: Canadians. There are nearly thirty-three million people living in that country and each one of them would pay handsomely to come on my show. We’ll tell them there is a prize for whoever is the butt of the funniest joke. That’ll work, and they’ll take up at least a few seasons. Minnesota will be right behind them.

In order to prepare for the creation of my show, I am going to have to perform many hours of pain-staking, tax-deductible research doing grueling tasks such as going to comedy clubs, reading books by funny authors and watching hour after hour of The Weakest Link. I’ll make sure to keep those pesky IRS agents busy by keeping meticulous accounting records with the help of my administrative assistant and pet fish, Cash. I’ll also receive countless applications from my readers in hopes they will get to take part in my show. The application consists of three questions:
•Have you ever paid anyone to make fun of you before?
•Are you able to count all the way to ten?
•On average, how many beers do you drink in a five minute span?

If you would like to be considered for the show, please mail a self-addressed, stamped envelope along with your name, your answers to these questions, and a cashier’s check for five hundred dollars to Phil Stalnaker, P.O. Box 3862, Omaha, NE 68105. Anyone who laughed at my column need not reply. And rest assured that all profits I receive from the success of this show will be donated to the charity of my choosing: it’s called the “Phil Fund”.

Healthcare and Horses

I can’t tell you how nice it is to receive so many letters of care here at the Bureau for Horse Recovery Center Institution Office and Sledding Museum. Everyone is so worried about Barbaro (the horse known for winning the 2006 Kentucky Derby, also known for inventing a new hair removal therapy), that we have received literally tens of letters of support. I also want to express extreme appreciation to all who have sent in money to help provide for his health care. In your letters you all acknowledged that since Barbaro was a horse (and thus only slightly human), he might not have enough funds saved for expensive surgery and recovery. And it means so much to us that you decided to give your hard earned money to him instead of something unimportant and fleeting, such as world peace, a better mouse trap, or salary raises for Congress, etc…
It’s true that Barbaro went through a very difficult procedure. His surgery lasted over six hours, taking the expertise of fifteen well-trained surgeons, thus costing over fifty-seven million dollars to complete. And that was just Sunday. For the next several months, this poor horse will undergo a series of very intense and painful (thus expensive) therapy sessions where the end result will be the ability to walk again, or at least a gentle trot. No matter the result of his recuperation, Barbaro will never race again. He is now retired and the focus for the rest of his days is being put out to stud. His owners will sell him out to high bidders so that he can impregnate young mares (known as female horses or heavy metal bands). That doesn’t sound like much of a retirement. He’ll be working harder than he ever has before, keeping all those fillies happy.

And it’s for that very reason we are spending so much time and money to make sure Barbaro has a full and complete recovery. If he is going to be what we in the horse world call “a male escort”, then he is going to need all his strength. It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that each of us in the Bureau (HoMu for short) stands to make about sixty-two thousand dollars per hour. Of course it may seem that the healthcare business is stringing you along with high-priced promises of a full recovery while actually keeping you ill so that they can collect kickbacks from the drug companies, but it’s just an illusion. We are actually more interested in getting money from the insurance companies, not the drug reps.

I’m sure you don’t want to hear about your doctors, though; who by the way, I totally admire and respect. That is one industry that knows how to keep their client base. And it’s so simple; at any time they might need to “run some more tests” on you, thus turning your retirement account into their vacation fund. And what are you going to do—say no? You can’t do that, because the doctors are probably right. Have you ever tried to outsmart a doctor? It doesn’t work; they’ll just give you two bills and tell you to pay them in the morning. And don’t ever tell a doctor that they are wrong. One slip up like that will follow you for the rest of your life (that’s what medical records are for), making your average waiting time go from the length of the Jurassic age to eternity twice over.

Thankfully, that’s not the way it works for us in the veterinary field. Since animals have no concept of time, we can make them wait forever and they are content sniffing each other’s behinds and rolling around on the floor while trying to eat their tail. But you’re not interested in the waiting room habits of animals; you want to hear the details of Barabro’s condition. In layman’s terms Barbaro suffered a severe fracture of the right-hind leg bones known as the lower leg bone and the other lower leg bone. He did this by running in a race that he was expected to win, and about an eighth of the way through it, he landed on his leg awkwardly, thus snapping it nearly in half and speeding his pace up to about zero miles per hour. I guess he thought that was a good strategy to win the Preakness. It’s a good thing I only bet my car on him.

Yes, Barbaro has been in a lot of pain recently, but take solace in knowing that he is being taken care of by the best vets available (only thirteen of the fifteen surgeons bet on Barbaro for the race). We are confident that even though his chances of survival are currently only twelve percent, Barbaro will pull through. Let’s just hope none of his doctors took out a second mortgage on the race. And during the recovery phase, he will be working very hard to heal. This will include an intense schedule of sleeping, eating, and pampering for at least twelve to fifteen weeks. After of which, assuming he fully heals, he will return to his pasture and begin a lucrative career as a stud.

Therefore, we at the HoMu want you to be reassured that Barbaro will be just fine. He was a joy to work with and could tell a joke better than most dental practitioners. Don’t forget to come by and visit him, and while you’re here be sure to check out the sledding wing of the museum; there is a great exhibit called “Anatomy of a Tree Trunk”. You should stop by. Let’s all just band together and hope for the recovery of a beloved horse. Anyway, it’s been fun, but I’m going to let you go because one of the other surgeons just invited me over to his house for a special steak dinner. He said it’s a delicacy.

3 Days in Texas—3 Years to Recover

Allow me to begin this column by officially stating that my recent trip to Texas was solely for research purposes and therefore is completely tax-deductible. I would absolutely hate for Uncle Sam to get the wrong impression and think that this trip was fun—I needed a stunt double for most of it. Oh, and let me state for the record that everything I say in this column is true; in fact, each and every one of my columns are thoroughly researched and written with the fullest of journalistic integrity. That is, if you define thoroughly researched as made up in my head and journalistic integrity as writing after having a minimum of three beers. Those of you who know me know that I never make anything up; ever. So now I will begin to tell you about my Memorial Day weekend trip to the greatest state in the world—Iowa.

Now that you have all had a solid chuckle, only about an hour of my time was actually spent in Iowa. Any longer and I might have had to cut off my nose to save my face. The State of Iowa is one giant mass of pig farms, and the stench is so potent that individuals who have been dead for centuries in Europe have covered their skeletal nasal cavities for relief. I feel horrible for all those poor souls who don’t have room enough in their caskets for arm movement. Thus, thankfully, only one hour of the eighty-billion that were spent in my car this weekend was spent in Iowa. The rest of them were spent in Texas (as well as the two northern Texas colonies that call themselves states).

That’s right; Texas is huge. And it’s true what they say, everything is bigger in Texas. For example, Texas is the only state in the country to fly the state flag at the same height as the American flag, both of them being the same size. Not to mention that the state capital dome in Austin is the only one in the country that is larger than the dome in D.C. Everything in Texas is bigger; but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily better (Texans, please put away your shotguns). After careful consideration, I’ve decided to recant my last statement out of journalistic integrity for those Texans with big shotguns and agree that everything is better in Texas also.

Where else would you find the state’s community for the blind conjoined with the state’s regional lottery community? That is a genius development strategy (or, in the words of their famous hometown President; strategery). The Dallas Cowboys have figured out a better way to get a new football stadium. They refused to perform any upkeep on their current stadium so when voters voted on whether to grant the Cowboys a new stadium, all they saw was a badly dilapidated football field. But those are only Texas landmarks; their people are simply remarkable.

The idea for this trip came from a very good friend of mine named Steven. He graciously invited me, along with a few other friends, down to his parents’ beach house that sits on a large lake on the northern border of Texas. Thanks to my particular strategery of financial planning, one compatriot and I decided to head to this beach house by way of a road trip. That means we spent twelve consecutive hours (each way) in a construction nightmare so bad it would have given R.G. LeTourneau the shakes. Despite the numerous attempts made by construction crews (“On Call 24 Minutes a Day”) to thwart our efforts, we made it to Dallas in enough time to sit in rush hour traffic. And this was all a wonderful experience, because after sitting through one Dallas traffic jam, I’ll only need to continue therapy sessions with my psychologist for an extra twenty-seven years. Somehow, though, we made it to the lake house.

This is where the fun began. In the three days I spent at the lake house, I received enough injuries to take down King Kong. Because the water was too choppy on the lake for water sports (and by the word sport, I mean ways to kill yourself), so we thought it would be fun to play games. One friend thought up some new rules to the well known sport of ultimate Frisbee. I’ll spare you the gory details, but let me say this: the main rule change consisted of the need to use your head in order to score. As if I haven’t killed enough brain cells already, I joined right in to see how quickly I could knock a few more screws loose. After that, I played a few other dangerous games, escalating to the climax game that we called “Hammock Toss”. That is where one person lays in the hammock and holds on as tight as possible while the others try to spin it as fast as possible hoping that the magic of entropy would hold true and keep the unfortunate rider in the hammock. It didn’t. Despite the fact that I probably lost two years of college education for all the damage to my brain this past weekend, I was not the craziest person in the group.

I could tell you about my buddy Steven, who though knowing that the lake water was even choppier the next day, decided anyway to take us all out and show us how to ski with one ski (though not on purpose), or how to shred all the skin off your inner arm by holding on to an inner tube being pulled behind a wave runner at forty-five miles per hour; but not even he was able to match the veracity of his older sister. I think that she is perhaps the most remarkable, yet most dangerous and scary person that I have ever met.

The day before arriving at the lake house, Becky, a young doctor just starting her own small town practice (while also being a mother of three young children) broke the pinky toe on her left foot. It was a totally freak accident, but one that would cause a normal person to take full advantage of the temporary handicap and force everyone around them to play the part of Geeves. Not Becky. On Saturday, she played kickball and had the best wipeout in our hammock game. On Sunday, she water-skied and practiced skeet shooting, and on Monday she ran the Dallas Marathon. Okay, not all of that was true. She had the second best wipeout in Hammock toss. And by the way, during the kickball game she, as pitcher, caught a ball that she had to dive for all the while holding her youngest child in her arms. She made the catch and the young boy didn’t even wake up from his nap. She either needs to be given a medal for bravery and effort or checked over for severe craziness.

All in all, I managed to return from the trip safe and sound. Granted, I have about three thousand dollars in doctor bills for patching me up from all the crazy stunts I pulled (such as nearly flipping a four-wheeler and a wave runner in the same afternoon). And believe it or not, I even helped the environment. I put enough sun-screen on to protect me and anyone else within a five mile radius from any UV exposure for the next sixteen years. At least now I know what it takes to get a good tan. I’ll make sure to repeat that next weekend, on my upcoming tax-deductible research trip to St. Louis (at least supply a little bit of journalistic…something to the masses). I’ll be trying to answer the age old question of whether or not it’s possible to buy a Miller beer at Busch Stadium, or if they arrest on request. Of course I’ll be doing it while wearing a Chicago Cubs hat, so I’m sure my chances to make friends will be plentiful. And, by the way, I can’t wait until my next opportunity to visit Steven and his family again at the lake house. I haven’t had that much fun trying to kill myself in years—but that’s because I’m a smart guy—this head of mine ain’t just a hat rack!