Why Do We Love Stupid?


May 13, 2014
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(The shortened opening)

NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic, I remember it so you don't have to. You know, I found myself searching for something deeper and more meaningful in life, so I decided to turn to the master of enlightenment himself, the Dalai Lama.

(Filmed footage of the Dalai Lama is shown)

NC (vo): I found a video where he talks about how compassion is not a sign of weakness and the responsibility one has backing their actions with the undeniable truth.

NC: So moved by these incredible words, I was a little shocked to find that only...

(Cut to a shot of the YouTube video of this footage, which has received only 2,179 views as of the release of the NC's video)

NC (vo): ...2,000 people actually viewed this video.

NC: Really? The worldly-known teacher of Buddhism only has a little over 2,000 hits?* Hmm. (*NOTE: As of May 2020, there have now been 95,878 views) Well, after that, I decided I needed something a little more lighthearted, so I put on this dumb shit.

(Cut to a clip of the "He-Man Sings" video)

NC: (briefly dancing and grooving to this video) I was a little shocked to find that not only did it have over 2,000 hits, but it had... well... this amount.

(Cut to a shot of the YouTube video for this thing, which runs FIVE HOURS(!) and which has received 15,069,013 views as of the release of the NC's video)

NC (vo): And that's for the five-hour version of this video.

NC: (smiling) Why do we love stupid?

(Cut to footage of Biodome. "Peer Gynt - Anitra's Dance" by Edvard Grieg starts serving as the background music)

NC (vo): I don't mean the fads that are popular for a short amount of time.

(Cut to footage of Adventure Time)

NC (vo): I mean legitimately timeless, hilarious stupid.

(Cut to clips of Ren and Stimpy, Dumb and Dumber, and Monty Python's Flying Circus)

NC (vo): I'm talking about the Ren and Stimpys, the Dumb and Dumbers, the Monty Python's Flying Circuses...

(Cut to clips of several YouTube videos, including one of Gary Brolsma dancing and lyp syncing to O-Zone's "Dragostea Din Tei")

NC (vo): ...those ridiculous YouTube videos that make no sense, but for some reason still get a big laugh out of you every time.

(Cut to one of the many animation clips from Monty Python's Flying Circus: a woman in a one-piece bathing suit, with her stomach out; several tiny men are hurled against her stomach and bounce off, then the woman removes her head and catches another man in it)

NC (vo): What is it that can make things that we know are idiotic, good?

(Cut to more clips of stupid scenes of Biodome)

NC (vo): Like, we know this is stupid and doesn't make us giggle.

(Cut to Bud Macintosh (Pauly Shore) with a breathing mask and hose over his nose and mouth)

Bud: I feel like a duck-bill platypus! Bwa! Waa-waaa!

(Cut to the van scene from Dumb and Dumber, with Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) acting moronic as they drive, much to the chagrin of Joe Mentalino (Mike Starr))

NC (vo): But we also know that this is stupid, and for some reason makes us laugh our asses off.

Lloyd: Want to hear the most annoying sound in the world? (beat) EEEEEEEEAAAAAHHHHH!!!!


NC: These things don't take as much focus and effort as...

(Cut to a clip of Abbott and Costello's iconic "Who's On First?" routine)

NC (vo): ...Abbott and Costello's brilliant writing...

(Cut to a clip of Steamboat Bill, Jr.: the side of a house falling down on Buster Keaton, who survives as he stands in the spot where a window is open)

NC (vo): ...or Buster Keaton's unbelievable stunts.

(Cut to He-Man singing)

NC (vo): It's just... stupid.

(Cut to a clip of Monty Python's Flying Circus)

NC (vo): So why are we lenient to certain stupid routines...

(Cut to a clip of Biodome)

NC (vo): ...and yet so harsh on others?

(Cut to a clip of Ren and Stimpy)

NC (vo): Why do we laugh so hard at something a two-year-old would laugh just as hard at?

NC: Well, let's first understand why the hell we laugh to begin with. In my opinion, I think it's a defense mechanism.

(Cut to a shot of Richard Pryor doing stand-up)

NC (vo): I, as well as many comedians before, have said that all comedy is based on misery. Well, the reason for that is...

(Cut to a person sitting on the ground in front of a brick wall, with his/her head buried between his/her legs, feeling miserable)

NC (vo): ...if we didn't have comedy, all we would do is sit around and feel bad about the stuff happening around us.

(Cut to a shot of Louis C.K. doing stand-up)

NC (vo): Comedy helps up confront the bad things in front of us and cope with it.

(Cut to footage of a Three Stooges short)

NC (vo): I'm sure a lot of people in one way or another were injured in a similar way the Three Stooges were in many of their shorts. Hell, Houdini died by a blow to the stomach, but we don't think the Stooges are going too far when they punch one another in the stomach. Why? Because it's saying that suffering is a part of life, and by laughing at it, you acknowledge that, though painful, it's all part of the journey. It's a way to adjust to the bad things happening around us and move on. Okay, fair enough, but...

(Cut to He-Man singing)

NC (vo): ...how does something like this connect to misery? (shows more clips of He-Man) Well, maybe not misery of the character you're watching, but certainly a jolt to your expectations.

NC: We've all seen screamers before; those videos that make you think it's one thing, and then suddenly–

(Cut to a montage of scary, open-mouthed faces, all screaming)

NC: A cheap scare pops up, and we've all gone through it, and they've all been done a million times, and we're really sick of it, but admit it, the first time you ever saw one, you felt a burst of life in you.

(Cut to a shot of a Siamese cat)

NC (vo): This comes from an instinct to keep you on your guard, (shows a second shot of a Siamese cat) like an animal does to prepare for danger.

(Cut to a clip of Ghostbusters: a ghost in a library scares Venkman, Stantz and Spengler, sending them fleeing)

NC (vo): But when you find out it's not dangerous, you have yourself a good laugh. It's one of the reasons people like going to scary movies.

(Cut to footage of an Egoraptor cartoon where a character plays a video game)

NC (vo): Stupid humor is kind of the same way. While not every silly joke needs to rely on scaring you into laughter, it still has to rely on playing with your expectations; that is, relying on the unexpected.

(NOTE: the following has been cut from the YouTube version of the video, with the clip being shortened and its audio cut due to copyright reasons)

(Cut to a clip of Adventure Time episode "Freak City", with Finn, Jake, and a beggar named Normal Man in a huge cloak)

NC (vo): Take this clip from Adventure Time, for example.

Normal Man: You know, believe it or not, I'm not really a beggar. (his hands take a hold of his cloak) I'm actually a... (pulls off cloak, revealing this person to be a...) ...MAGIC MAAAAAAAN!!

Jake: Oh!

Finn: Whoa!

Jake: He's–

Finn: Oh, yeah!

Jake: He's magic!

NC (vo): Now, who the hell could've predicted that coming? (the Magic Man turns a bird inside out; it has difficulty flying away) The existence of a magic man is not an especially funny idea, but when you build up one thing and deliver something totally unexpected, it keeps you on your toes, unprepared for what's coming next. (the Magic Man casts a spell on Finn that turns his body into a giant foot)

(NOTE: this is where the cut out part ends)

NC (vo): And that rush of trying to get a handle on what's going to happen, but never fully getting that grasp, can be exciting, fun, and of course hilarious.

(Cut to footage of the iconic spam sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus)

NC (vo): In a show like Monty Python's Flying Circus, they thrive on the unexpected, even to a point of insulting your sense of humor. How long can this sketch keep using the word "spam"?

Waitress (played by a cross-dressing Terry Jones): ...spam, egg, spam, spam, bacon and spam, spam, spam, spam, bacon, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam, spam and spam...

NC (vo): Just when you think something in them has to know they need to stop, they just keep going!

Vikings: (singing) Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, lovely spam, wonderful spam!

NC (vo): Again, playing with the expectation of just when you think something is going to cease, it surprises you and continues, making even the repeat of one word suddenly funny again.

Man (played by Eric Idle): Well, can I have spam instead?

Waitress: You mean spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam...

Vikings: (singing) Spam!

(Cut to footage of an Andy Kaufman concert film)

NC (vo): Andy Kaufman made a living playing with both your expectations and your patience. He once did a stand-up where all he did was eat a bowl of ice cream. People were so confused and so caught off-guard that they couldn't help but laugh at it.

Kaufman: What I'd like to do for you right now, the bit which got me thrown out of the improv. I haven't done it since, and... although I have tried it a few times and it never has worked, but I'd like to do it for you tonight.

NC (vo): But this isn't just blind randomness, there is technique to it. A part of this works because of its buildup. People think it's gonna be something shocking and risque, when really, it's just a huge waste of time. So don't be confused, there's certainly method to the madness.

(Cut to the "Batman Eats a Hotdog" video)

NC (vo): The YouTube video "Batman Eating a Hotdog" has over four million views.* (NOTE: As of November 2016, the video now has about five-and-a-half million views) How? It's just Batman eating a hot dog! Well, that's because people can't believe that someone went to all the effort to animate – very well animate, by the way – one of America's greatest superheroes doing nothing but eating a hot dog.

(Cut to an image of a sketch of Batman holding the hot dog, while saying "Yum.")

NC (vo): But now, if it was just a line drawing or a still of Batman doing that, it wouldn't be as funny.

(Cut to a shot of the animated Batman seen in the video)

NC (vo): The animator knew it still had to feel like Batman. If it didn't, the joke wouldn't work.

(Cut back to the video again)

NC (vo): So he made it intense, dark, and over-the-top epic, all for the simple task of eating processed... (Batman eats the hot dog, after which a flash of lightning occurs)

NC: So, why does something like that get so much laughter, and yet something like...

(Cut to footage of The Starving Games)

NC (vo): ...The Starving Games becomes universally hated? Well, one of the reasons for that is that something like The Starving Games doesn't take any risks. You know the kind of jokes they're going to do, because you've seen them a million times. (an image of Spaceballs pops up) Mel Brooks did it. (an image of Hot Shots! pops up) The Zucker Brothers did it. (a shot of a Saturday Night Live sketch pops up) SNL did it. We're all used to this kind of formula.

(Cut back to the "Batman Eats a Hotdog" video)

NC (vo): I think you can safely say that Batman eating a hot dog has not been done before. As far as we know, that has never existed.

NC: But that does bring up one of the biggest problems with stupid humor: when it becomes predictable.

(Cut to footage of Monty Python's Flying Circus)

NC (vo): As much as I love Monty Python's Flying Circus, if you watch it long enough, you start to realize a bit of a pattern: you watch somebody being crazy, you think the normal person is going to react normally, but it turns out the normal person is just as crazy as the crazy person.

Specialist (played by John Cleese): No pruning necessary.

Mr. Luxury Yacht (played by Graham Chapman): I'd still like the operation. Please do an operation.

Specialist: Only if you'll come on a camping holiday with me.

Mr. Luxury Yacht: (looking toward camera with delight) He asked me! He asked me!

(The specialist and Mr. Luxury Yacht are then seen frolicking together in the woods)

NC (vo): And don't get me wrong, there's other jokes, too, and ones that break the mold, but that seemed to be the one that popped up the most. That kind of joke relies on being unexpected, but when it's done a few times, you start to catch on.

(Cut to footage of Andy Kaufman's concert film, with him playing a pair of bongo drums)

NC (vo): The fact is, it's difficult to continually be unexpected, because if you keep doing things that are unexpected, they suddenly become expected!

(Cut to a clip of Ren and Stimpy)

NC (vo): I think that's why we laugh so hard when we see something that is so strange and is so unusual.

(Cut to footage of Adventure Time)

NC (vo): Because, truth be told, it is difficult to be silly and goofy while also being funny. Not everybody has it, and it's not always the easiest to obtain. It's an instinct that relies not only on what most people are expecting, but what most people have already seen.

(Cut to a clip of The Starving Games)

NC (vo): Starving Games is predictable and tired...

(Cut to a clip of the "He-Man Sings" video)

NC (vo): ...where nobody could predict that when He-Man held aloft his magic sword, he would say...

He-Man: (singing) Twenty-five years, and my life is still...

NC (vo): ...and stay committed to it throughout the entire song, something that was so unpredictable and so out of left field that people are coming back to it time after time to make it more popular.

NC: Now, the other all-knowing truth that a lot of people talk about with comedy, aside from it all being about misery, is that it's all subjective.

(Cut to a clip of the bathroom scene in Dumb and Dumber)

NC (vo): Maybe none of this stupid humor stuff got a giggle out of you. Maybe you do just look at it and say, "That's really dumb. Why is everybody else laughing at this?"

(Cut to footage of Monty Python's Flying Circus)

NC (vo): But I'm willing to bet there's something out there that you know is stupid and yet you still can't help but howl with laughter at.

(Cut to footage of a YouTube video showing people having a light saber duel)

NC (vo): Something you can't explain, you can't figure out, but it just makes you laugh.

(Cut to a clip of a Three Stooges film)

NC (vo): Comedy isn't an exact science, but there certainly are things that a huge amount of people will find joy in, and whether it be intelligent or stupid...

(Cut to a clip of Adventure Time, Beemo pouring water into a toilet)

NC (vo): ...the one thing we can take from both of them is that they both take effort.

(Cut to clips of various YouTube videos, involving people doing stupid things)

NC (vo): Yes, everyone can get lucky with one stupid routine here or there, or one silly moment that happened by accident and resulted in fifteen minutes of fame.

(Cut to a clip of Ren and Stimpy episode "Sven Hoek" (Ren's freakout))

NC (vo): But for something to continue to be funny and keep people coming back, that takes a great deal of talent.

(Cut to a video of a person riding a skateboard in a skate park and getting a glass of water splashed on him as he does a stunt, then gets punched in the face by someone wearing a boxing glove, knocking him down)

NC (vo): Some rely on hours of research, others rely on seconds of instinct.

(Cut to another video, this one of an elevator door opening, revealing a man in boxer shorts, riding a surfboard across a wave of colored balls)

NC (vo): But both have an art that requires of a lot of dedication and a ton of trial and error.

(Cut to Andy Kaufman's concert film)

NC (vo): But given all the variations of people out there, as well as...

(Cut to a clip of Ren and Stimpy's "Sven Hoek" again)

NC (vo): ...millions of different senses of humor, nobody is gonna hit the majority all the time.

(Cut to a homemade film of someone dressed as an astronaut firing what looks like a bazooka at someone wrapped in foil standing on a skateboard platform)

NC (vo): So even something as silly as this... (plays video) ...is doing something that connects with millions of peoples' senses of humor, whether they realize it or not.

(Cut to the end of the spam sketch from Monty Python)

NC (vo): So, the next time you see something is so stupid or so dumb...

(Cut to a clip of a video with a man jumping off a plank after being shot in the butt by a cannon)

NC (vo): ...just keep telling yourself, if it's making you laugh harder than...

(Cut to a clip of Dumb and Dumber)

NC (vo): ...anything else has that day, it just might be a little smarter...

(Cut to a clip of the He-Man Sings video, where the birthday cake chef comes in)

NC (vo): ...than you think it is.

Chef: Now is time for cake!

NC: I'm the Nostalgia Critic; I remember it because– (abruptly starts singing, dancing and grooving to He-Man's song; he gets up from his chair and leaves, dancing and grooving all the while)

(Credits roll)

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