Dang, it’s been along time since I posted. There is a site re-design in the works and I have been working through teaching online. So lots of good things ahead for improvdoesbest.com.
But here it is Halloween night 2020. I’m feeling a little hopeful (knock on wood). And an interaction just inspired me to knock out this little post.
My daughter is digging into her bag of treats and said, “These gummies are delicious.”
“As a matter they are, she said,” I said.
My wife laughed.
Thinking my response had any comical value at all requires you to know The Barenaked Ladies’ “These Apples.” You were also probably going to high school in the United States in 1994.
To a subset of people who hear someone say anything is “delicious,” responding with “as a matter of fact they are, she said,” is sorta obligatory. And it’s kinda funny.
Other examples that will similarly date my frame of reference:
- “Y’all ready for this?” “Bah bum bump.”
- “It’s 4:30.” “It’s not late; no, no, it’s early, early, early.”
- “Phone is ringing.” “Oh, my god.”
These were all song lyrics that played a lot during my formative years. I’ve no doubt that you can think of some comparable lines from your cultural upbringing. From songs, or movies, or TV – whatever. Maybe there are similar lines your friends share as inside jokes that originated simply out of goofing around.
When some semblance of the first of the two lines comes up in organic conversation and we hear the second line delivered in response there’s a “yep, that’s what comes next” recognition. It completes a call and response pattern we have in our head, even if we haven’t heard the song in years.
And to be clear I’m not saying completing the sequence in regular conversation is always funny or otherwise worthwhile. Sometimes it’s groan inducing. It can feel forced.
But when the first line is said genuinely – it’s not a setup – and the referential response serves to jolt the listener back to an earlier time – shared either together or separately – there is fun in that.
It’s of course similar to when someone drops a catchphrase from popular culture into the course of regular conversation BUT while that leverages the power of recognition, these examples also have the power of pattern’s sequence behind them.
Call and response. Oh course he had to say that thing after she said that thing – the moment he said it that was abundantly clear. Funny.
I sure do love me some patterns.