November 8, 2007
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In conjunction with the newcritics Comedy Week, I thought I would write about the funniest event I have personally witnessed.
While I naturally gravitate to the verbal side of humor, I have a soft side for slapstick, especially when witnessed live, especially when unintentional. One friend of mine, whom I’ll call Christopher, was for some reason a magnet for events like this. Christopher is tall and thin, the kind of person they invented the word “gangly” for, and he has an innate (perhaps unconscious) sense of exaggeration in his movements that he plays up to comic effect often.
A group of us happened to be having brunch over at a friend’s small apartment. Christopher and I were sitting in a cramped space between the breakfast table and the wall it was pressed up against, below a window with Venetian blinds, drawn against the morning sun. Christopher, on the inside, needed to get out for some reason, and as I had already scooched my chair as far into the table as I could without bisecting myself, he decided to step over me rather than make me get out. So he lifted his long legs and managed to clear my chair back, stepping over to the other side.
The problem was that in stepping over my chair, he’d managed to tangle his foot in the low-hanging pull cord of the Venetian blinds. As he tried to step all the way down to the floor, he lost his balance and tumbled over my chair, landing with an ungainly thump on the floor as his foot jerked the pull cord down, raising the blinds with an abrupt “whizzz!” that provided the accompaniment for his fall. The combination of the blinds jerking up and him toppling over was as well choreographed as any cartoon, and had everyone at the table doubled over in hysterics (even those of us who weren’t already doubled over by the cramped seating). It remains the funniest thing I’ve ever witnessed in person. And I’ve seen Ryan Adams drunk in concert.