Fireside Chat #20 (Spring ’06)

THE GOOD OLD DAYS (LAUGHING AT FATTIES)

In the 1961 film, “The Hustler,” Paul Newman shoots pool against Minnesota Fats, the world’s best pool player who happens to be hilariously overweight. The joke is a simple one, but it’s enough: Fats is fat.

It’s too bad fat jokes aren’t politically correct anymore.

Nowadays, the greatest way to get away with making fun of the overweight is to disguise it as coming to their aide. I haven’t seen “Phat Chicks” yet, but I read a review that has led me to believe I was going to both sympathize with the empowered plus-sized protagonist and I laugh my head off when she couldn’t fit through doorways.

The king of the “Fat People are People Too But Let’s Belittle Them” genre is the Jack Black classic, “Shallow Hal.” The film boldly explores the question, “What if what is on the inside was what people saw on the outside?” while leaving plenty of time for jokes involving a disastrous poolside cannonball splash, enormous underwear and the song, “Who Let the Dogs Out?”

Still, the film’s moral slant really cuts down on its potential for more fat jokes. It makes me think back to a simpler time when we didn’t have to hide our wicked senses of humor. Call me old-fashioned, but I yearn for the day when I make a joke about people of a particular size, color or gender and get away with it.

Recently, I defended using supposedly “off-color” jokes in the interest of defending free speech, but there’s an even more important reason: They’re funny!

Yessir, I tell you what, there’s nothing like having a few laughs. Laughing burns calories, it acts as a facelift and best of all, it’s free. And the best things in life are free. My pa always said, “Only a sicko would stop a man from having a good ole American chuckle.”

So who is this PC Police coming up in my grill and telling me I can’t have one of “the best things in life” at the expense of some minority that’s probably not even in the room?

Luckily, there’s still one minority group that it’s safe to make fun of: Midgets. Nothing sets off a comedy club like a reference to midget bowling. I think it must be because most of us don’t know any midgets personally. They aren’t people to us so much as hilarious Tolkeineque concepts, like elves and trolls.

We need more concepts and fewer people. There was a time when a white male only had to respect other white males and the rest of the world was fair game for our entertainment. It ended, inconveniently, right around 1984.

It would take way too much energy for me to have a real I-you encounter with every single person I come across. Energy I could be spending laughing.

Speaking of alienating people, see you around, Peppersuckas! I wish I could say that you and I need to hang out in the next few weeks before graduation, but if we’re not spending time together now, we’ll probably lose touch in the next couple of years anyway.  Unless you have a job for me in the LA area, ha ha. Seriously, though, do you? Have a job for me, I mean?

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