The Funniest Things We Found From A to Z


Awards for the Truly Deserving

In Communication To the captain on a Vueling Airlines flight. He greeted Madrid-bound passengers this way: “We have a safety problem with the door at the front. Don’t worry—it’s only a safety problem.” —From The Titanic Awards, by Doug Lansky (Perigee Books)

In Recreation To an angler in Logmozero, Russia. He reportedly gets his neighbors’ attention each time he takes his boat out. That’s because he uses a functional World War II–era aviation bomb as an anchor. —From the Darwin Awards

In Problem Solving To Shandong Airlines. When one of its planes broke down shortly after landing, the passengers were asked to push it half a mile to the gate. “Thank God it was only a 20-ton medium-size plane,” said an airport worker. —From The Titanic Awards


Barack-isms “I’m pleased that Michelle accompanied me. There are few things in life that are harder to find and more important to keep than love. Well, love and a birth certificate.” —President Barack Obama, at the 2010 White House Correspondents’ Dinner

“I don’t want to be invited to the family hunting party.” —On revelations that he and former vice president Dick Cheney are eighth cousins

Business Opportunities What will people do for $5? Quite a bit, according to posts on

  • I will make up your mind for you for $5.
  • I will be your Internet boyfriend for a week for $5.
  • I will clean my room for $5.
  • I will listen to your side of the story for $5.
  • I will tell you if you look fat in those jeans for $5.
  • I will say anything for you in a nearly perfect Gollum (Lord of the Rings) voice for $5.


Comic, Funniest One I Know Nia Vardalos on Will Ferrell “I love it whenever Will Ferrell plays a guy valiantly fighting off the dull responsibility of male adulthood. His lack of vanity is jaw-droppingly sexy. I mean, c’mon, in Old School, he streaks down a residential street without sucking in his gut. If I were in that scene, I’d be wrapped head to toe in control-top panty hose. In Anchorman, he makes a sad ’70s mustache cool.

And in Step Brothers, when his 40-year-old man-child character petulantly declares, ‘I’m not going to call him Dad … Ever. Even if there’s a fire,’ I am on his side. Most women, while eye-rolling the antics, quietly enjoy this kind of guy. Admit it, most of us date or are married to one. Because … here’s a little secret: Compliment a woman and, sure, she will smile. But make a woman laugh, and she may get naked.”Nia Vardalos wrote and starred in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. She cowrote Larry Crowne, due out next year. Dave Barry on humorist Roy Blount, Jr. “Everything Roy says in his Category Five Southern drawl is funny. We were in a men’s room once and the urinals had this high-tech flushing mechanism with lights flashing ‘System On!’ Roy couldn’t figure out how to flush it, and he started drawling on in such an entertaining manner that I nearly wet my pants, which I rarely do in men’s rooms.”Roy has also brought me to near incontinence as a member of the Rock Bottom Remainders, our profoundly mediocre all-author rock band. Roy can’t play an instrument or sing, so his contribution is to gyrate randomly around the stage with all the rhythmic grace of a walrus on stilts. He also happens to be a great humor writer, but even if he were a pension actuary, he’d be hilarious. I would pay to see him actuarize a pension or whatever it is they do.”

Dave Barry’s I’ll Mature When I’m Dead is on sale now. B. J. Novak on Ricky Gervais, et al “The first funniest person in the world to me was Mitch Hedberg, the late comedian. He was rebellious and sweet. I remember one line: ‘An escalator can never break—it can only become stairs.’ I quoted him for weeks until my girlfriend broke up with me. Peter, the caterer on the set of The Office, is very funny. He believes that every item he has can improve your sexual prowess. He will create a narrative about who he thinks you’re dating and how his vegetable soup will increase your stamina. Ricky Gervais, who created The Office, is the most recent funniest person in the world to me. He gives me faith that you don’t have to be crazy to be a genius. And his giggle is the most high-pitched squeal of delight. It’s a no-vanity sign of his comedy because it’s really an unpleasant sound. Your sense of humor changes. I’m lucky that I keep meeting new people who seem funnier than the last.”

B. J. Novak is a writer and actor on The Office.


Defense One writer dares to speak up for that much maligned breakfast icon—imitation syrup. “People give 100 percent real maple syrup as gifts. They take their kids to a farm to see it being collected and cooked. In the Northeast, it’s extolled. Which is strange because it’s not as good as Aunt Jemima or Mrs. Butterworth’s, its mass-market imitators. First of all, syrup shouldn’t run; it should ooze. Real maple syrup runs. The mass-market stuff—the stuff you grew up on—that stuff oozes. It has viscosity. So instead of going straight into the pancakes, like water into a sponge, it maintains their integrity. And the taste: Mass-market syrup is sweet. Real maple syrup is a beguiling combination of sugar and resin. Which is authentic, sure. But bark is authentic. Is there anything else we eat that tastes vaguely of tree?”

—Ross McCammon, in Esquire