Non-Innovative Comedy

If I were a stand-up comic, I would not be a groundbreaking one. I would be painfully outmoded. I would be the opposite of cutting edge–I would be the handle or hilt. I would follow all the familiar formulas, and I would work in the genre of known as “observational comedy.” This brand of humor was a big hit, but became pretty widespread, to the point of tedium and self-deprecation by its chief practitioner (and perhaps inventor), Jerry Seinfeld. In one episode of the show Seinfeld, George was introduced to Jerry as a stranger; George derided the “comedian” occupation, asking Jerry, “What, you do those ‘You ever notice’ kind of jokes? Yeah, very funny.”

I would continue to mine this form without any new twists. My bits would not even be groaners, they would just elicit confused silence, amplifying the hollow hiss of air ducts and chair legs scraping on floors.

To wit.

I got a new toaster this week. Cheap thing. Like $9 at Target. How do they make any money on these things? You got molded plastic parts, you got the metal frame, it’s kind of attractively curved. Functional. That’s gotta be designed. You got the cord, the coils, the Styrofoam packaging, the box, the printing on the box, someone to write the words on the box, the shipping, the marketing, the licensing, the branding, the fire hazard safety specs, the manual, the import tariffs or whatever. If I had to make one of these, it would cost me like $400. I could sell it to you for $450 to make it worth my time.

What the fuck?

Who’s gonna buy a toaster for $450? I’d be out of business in a day. I’d have to file for bankruptcy and have a clearance sale. Toaster: $325. Was $450.

Here’s a question. What is it with the two slots and the toaster-maker’s insistence about which one gets used? If you’re making two slices, fine: one piece of bread in each slot. No problem. But if you’re only making one—for some reason, you know, you live alone, or you’re married to someone who’s allergic to toast, I don’t know, maybe she’s on a toast-free diet or something. But if you’re only making one slice at a time YOU MUST USE THIS SLOT AND NOT THE OTHER. They aren’t kidding. This is so essential, they go through the trouble to engrave this on the metal. SINGLE, with a little arrow. THIS ONE!!! God, what are you doing? One slice? Don’t risk your life using the other! Put it in here! Are you crazy?! (At this point, I would yell and scream exaggeratedly for effect.)

It’s nuts. What will happen if you use the other? Will it explode? I mean, I watched while my bread was toasting. I looked down in there. I gotta tell ya, the slots looked the same. You got thin orange coils on either side of the bread, they’re glowing. Same thing in the other slot. They don’t look that different, people. But I’m not gonna mess around with it. (deadpan) I don’t want to void my warranty.

I’ll tell ya where they should put a warning like that, one where it’s more important than when slightly heating bread, and that is operating a motor vehicle. Yeah. They should engrave that warning on the passenger side door, by the handle. “If it’s just you driving, get in the other side. We’re serious. We can’t vouch for what will happen otherwise.”

Thank you. You’ve been a great audience. Remember tip your people who brought you drinks.

Then I’ve got a bit about how bagels are a super-conductive material. You ever notice how hot they are when you take them out of the toaster, etc. And I propose, humorously, that the world’s energy problems might be solved by making unsold bagels into roof-mounted solar panels. It really takes off from there, trust me.