“If you make me laugh, I’ll fall in love with you,” writes N.C. Harrison.
I am in love. Not the average, mundane, every day sort of love that goes out on dates to Checkers for a Baconzilla with extra cheese at two in the morning, naps in footie pyjamas and watches three or four episodes of Destination Truth back to back with me–although that kind of love is nice, too. No, this love is the appreciation that an aesthete feels for an artwork or the talented creators thereof. I wish fervently that I possessed the eloquence of Hilston Als, Truman Capote or Lou Reed–hell, even Tony Bourdain–so that I could catalogue adequately the cuteness I have discovered.
The objects of my new fascination are Alie Ward and Georgia Hardstark, Cooking Channel’s Classy Ladies and the originators of the McNuggetini. Although I do not drink liquor due to a propensity towards duodenal ulcers since my teenage years, I am almost tempted to try this culinary abomination consisting of vanilla vodka, a McDonald’s chocolate milkshake, barbecue sauce, and a chicken McNugget. Yes, you read that all correctly and, yes, I do wonder what you would have to be drinking before you conjured up that culinary nightmare.
Whereas most cooking and travel show hosts present a facade of often false domestic bliss, Ward and Hardstark traipse with lunatic, pixie joy through the stranger backroads of American cuisine and tourism. Let others keep Austin weird–these girls are going to Marfa. They’re like Laverne and Shirley, or Lucy and Ethel, even coming complete with blowsy, frilly Eisenhower era party dresses and a pale, slightly manic redhead. Any straight male I know could imagine a much worse fate than spending a day with these two ladies, chattering and eating tiny sandwiches.
The primary reason that I like these two little knotheads, I believe, is that they make me laugh out loud. I adore women who make me laugh. Funny gals are my weakness. Alie and Georgia, while engaging in the often over-serious art of mixology, wear funny costumes and make jokes a twelve year old boy would find immature. My first girlfriend (who has since become more like a member of my family) and I would talk about the most inane things deep into the night. An all-redneck version of Romeo and Juliet cast from the trailer park near her house. Starting a religion based around her pet rat as its primary prophet. A religion based around an all-redneck version of Romeo and Juliet starring her pet rat as Friar Lawrence. These were some of our more normal conversations. Another dear friend, since gone to Idaho, could leave me breathless with her simple, hapless navigation of life as a poor little rich girl gone mad. I don’t know how she got it up there in the first place but I am glad that they did, finally, get that 2007 Volkswagon Jetta down off the roof of that McDonald’s. It just didn’t fit the decor of the place, after all.
In her book Bossypants, Tina Fey shares a story about her best friend and my favorite comedienne, Amy Poehler, which perhaps sums up why funny women are such a lance cutting through to my heart. It was Poehler’s first day at Saturday Night Live and, during a table read, she lounged in a Boston Red Sox cap regaling the guys with one wild story after another. For those who know her only from her excellent work on Parks and Recreation… well… it would be like knowing her old compatriot Louis C.K. only from the few episodes that he was on Parks and Recreation. Poehler’s early work tended to be absurdist, bizarre and more than infrequently crossed the line twice. One segment with the Upright Citizens Brigade, for example, involves the consumption and subsequent regurgitation–and subsequent reconsumption by a truly strange character–of an illusion of Jesus that had appeared in a bowl of spaghetti. What I’m trying to say here, I guess, is that the stories she was telling were probably not what you would expect to come out of a five foot one inch, outwardly adorable blonde woman, especially if you were a member of what has been frequently called a “boy’s club.”
Finally, half-jokingly, Jimmy Fallon said to her and to the room at large, “Jeez, that’s just not cute.” Poehler turned to him, fixed him with that cool, piercing blue eyed stare which made her such a believable Hillary Clinton and said, “I don’t really give a fuck what you think is cute or not.” Fallon, taken aback, did not speak for the rest of the crowd. This attitude–all fire to the engines, full speed ahead, take no prisoners–is probably why funny ladies grab me so hard, so deep. To make people laugh requires a human vulnerability, letting it all hang out, that doesn’t worry about being cute or prim or proper–and damn to hell anyone who dares to voice criticism. It’s this same bravery and clearness of purpose which lead Amy Poehler to start Smart Girls at the Party, a web site dedicated to lifting up and celebrating the contributions of young women to science, activism and the arts. I’m not sure if we can chalk Alie and Georgia’s ham daiquiri drink up to quite the same kind of courage but… it is definitely ballsy, brassy and unlike anything I have ever tasted before in my life, thanks be unto God.
I know that it’s an old canard–men say that they want a woman with a sense of humor but what they really want is a pair of pretty legs. Not me, though. Sure, a pair of pretty legs isn’t a bad thing, exactly, but if you make me laugh–and show me your naked humanity by not caring that I do laugh, by laughing wth me–then I’ll fall in love with you. And if you feed me tiny sandwiches, I’ll love you forever.