Tuesday, January 06, 2004

from puff daddy to wherediddy

As I'm sure is the case for many readers, I have a relative who is continually forwarding me various "funny" e-mails. Usually I don't read them. When I do, I rarely find them amusing (and, as you know, I'm pretty easily amused). Today, I am forwarded an e-mail that, amidst keen competition, may indeed be the most spectacularly unamusing forwarded e-mail I have yet received. I mean "unamusing" not in the sense of "revolting" or "offensive," but unamusing in the sense of "astonishingly flat-footed attempt at humor; painfully lame." Here, for your perusal:
After much careful research, it has been discovered that the artist
Vincent Van Gogh had many relatives. Among them were:

His dizzy aunt: Verti Gogh
The brother who ate prunes: Gotta Gogh
The brother who worked at a convenience store: Stopn Gogh
The brother who bleached his clothes white: Hue Gogh
The cousin from Illinois: Chica Gogh
His magician uncle: Wherediddy Gogh
His Mexican cousin: Amee Gogh
The Mexican cousin's American half brother: Grin Gogh
The nephew who drove a stage coach: Wellsfar Gogh
The constipated uncle: Can't Gogh
The ballroom dancing aunt: Tan Gogh
the bird lover uncle: Flamin Gogh
His nephew psychoanalyst: E Gogh
The fruit loving cousin: Man Gogh
An aunt who taught positive thinking: Wayto Gogh
The little bouncy nephew: Poe Gogh
A sister who loved disco: Go Gogh
And his niece who travels the country in a van: Winnie Bay Gogh

Setting aside the whole issue of how "Van Gogh" and not "Gogh" is actually the painter's last name, I think one of the reasons this e-mail stands out to me in a sea of unfunny forwards is how it misses places where it can actually make a coherent joke. Like if someone asked you a riddle, "What was the name of Vincent Van Gogh's stagecoach driving nephew?"* and the answer was "Wellsfar Gogh," you might find that a little clever (it certainly works much better in riddle form than in the form above), but you might also think "What kind of first name is Wellsfar?" But, for a few of the ones above, the name actually could be presented as an actual first name, but the author seems to miss this. So you have "Amee Gogh" instead of "Amy Gogh" and "Verti Gogh" instead of "Verta Gogh" and "Hue Gogh" instead of "Hugh Gogh" (I don't actually get the last joke anyway--anyone who does get the reference feel free to explain it to me).

Without the constraint of having to match a first name, or at least be clever in how it doesn't, the humor becomes all weird and lazy: What's the name of his bluish-purple sister? Indy Gogh. What's the name of Van Gogh's cousin who ate snails? S. Carr Gogh. His ostracized uncle? M. Barr Gogh. His Wham-loving sister who incestuously married her brother? Wakemeupbeforeyou Gogh Gogh. His cousin with the skin disease? M. Pettee Gogh. His baby-eating wild dog nephew? Dean Gogh. (See I can't resist spelling the homophoned real first name if there is one.) His brother who was mutilated and his body parts thrown into the ocean, where they floated? Archie Pella Gogh. What's the name of His son who dressed in women's clothing on M*A*S*H and then moved to North Dakota? Jamie Farr Gogh. See, it gets so boring that even in mocking it I have to change things up. The fun never ends!

* (note above) Slightly-better-but-still-lame joke form?: "I was riding in a stagecoach the other day and the driver told me this weird story about his brother who cut off his ear. As I was getting out of the stagecoach, I asked the driver's name. 'Wellsfar Gogh.'"

Update, 3:30: A reader from Clarence, IA explained the Hue Gogh joke to me. The idea is that when you bleach something the color goes away, a.k.a. the hue goes, which is funny because it's a homonym for Hugo. Only they spell it Hue Gogh and you are supposed to get that it's funny because the answer sounds like a real first name. Or something like that. I'll leave it to the reader to judge if this explanation implies hilarity.

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