Just about every time I go home for a weekend or for a break a group of friends and I go to Houlihan’s Bar and Grill for dinner. The group of friends is an interesting one in itself. Steve, Eddie, Brian, and myself are all sophomores in college. However, James Gerry, and Eric vary in age from thirty to forty-five. We’ve all been going to the same church for a number of years and through different modes and methods of involvement have become extremely close.
The dinner, which I am going to talk about, was slightly different than all of the other ones. This time I was introducing my girlfriend to all of the guys. Though she had already met Steve and Eddie when they had visited Loyola, she had yet to meet the other four. After we had ordered our appetizer of spinach dip with cheesy lavosh (just as we always did), dinner proceeded as usual. The guys were getting to know Jen and we were all deciding what we were going to order, when a sudden outburst of movie quotes bombarded the table—you must understand that the seven of us are some of the biggest amateur movie fans that have ever crossed the threshold of Houlihan’s Bar and Grill.
The quotes started out with Star Wars—the classic exchange between the Emperor and the struggling hero, Luke Skywalker, in the end of the Return of the Jedi was always one of our favorite scenes to recreate. James took on the part of the decaying imperial scum while I repeated the lines of the rebellious Jedi. We sparred back and forth each spelling out the other’s pitfalls and weaknesses.
As the tirade continued we moved from movie to movie spewing out memorable lines, until we finally ended up reenacting scenes from the then-new-release Pineapple Express. Jen was just sitting there laughing from time to time, but for the most part just disbelieving of the situation. It had been about fifteen minutes since the table conversation had consisted of anything but movie lines.
Douglas explained the African joking ritual as consisting of three different requirements. Though I don’t think the first requirement of these institutions is applicable to the social joking of the above group. Perhaps the word excrement could be replaced with film or movies and then our group would be fairly comparable to the African institutions. What Douglas calls a “range of specific relationships” could certainly be encompassed by the friendly and jocular relationships between Steve, Eddie, Brian, Gerry, James, Eric, and myself and what he calls “certain ritual occasions” could be the dinner occasions at which we find ourselves amid a cacophony of movies quotes incoherent to outsider such as Jen.
This kind of group humor is an interesting aspect of social joking. The implications of the relationships necessary to facilitate a culture of social humor is something that I think could find its way into a working definition of humor. Often times, I think that we find ourselves in social situations where we are “outside of the loop.” Everyone of us has certainly experienced a situation where we find ourselves a joking ritual which we don’t completely understand and to which we cannot contribute.