A few weeks ago I noted in passing that some vegetables are funnier than others. So that got me thinking about the innate amusement value of produce.
At first I thought it might be the shape that determines the joke factor. After all, oranges are spherical and pretty boring, whereas bananas are oddly shaped and intrinsically funny. But that might be a subconscious bias on my part. Bananas come with a lot of psychological baggage as a result of their frequent misuse for purposes best left unmentioned…
Wait, why are you snickering? I was referring to the classic ‘slipping-on-a-banana-peel’ pratfall. What did you think I was talking about?
Okay, never mind; I’ll drop the fake indignation. You know me too well. But to keep this discussion pseudo-scientific, I’ll omit the phallic symbols that trigger a chortle-bias in my puerile brain. No bananas, cucumbers, or zucchini.
So let’s take turnips. Nobody in their right mind could assign a sexual connotation to a turnip. And if you’re about to inform me otherwise, please… just don’t. That’s the kind of thing no amount of brain-bleach can wipe from my mind. Not to mention it’ll make me snicker every time I go through the produce department.
I find turnips innocently funny. ‘Turnip’. It’s such a lumpish, stolid word. It’s the sumo wrestler of vegetables. Maybe it tickles my funnybone because one of my favourite sayings is ‘Strong like ox; smart like turnip’. Or maybe it’s only because other words beginning with ‘tur’ make me giggle, so turnips are funny by association. For instance, just try saying these words out loud without cracking a smile: ‘Turkey’. ‘Turgid’. ‘Turd’. (If you’re reading this at work, you might want to skip the ‘out loud’ part… but I dare you…)
Whatever the reason, turnips are a lot funnier than, say, lettuce.
If amusement value was influenced by shape alone, leaf lettuce should be a good candidate for some laughs. Ruffles and green colouring – it should be funny, right? (I find green funnier than red or yellow, too, but that’s a subject for another post… or possibly for incarceration and intense psychoanalysis.)
But no; lettuce isn’t funny. Maybe it’s because amusing things rarely happen while you’re eating lettuce. It’s at best a duty and at worst a punishment. I usually enjoy its crisp crunchiness and the fact that it’s good for me, but it doesn’t make me giggle. And if I want crisp and crunchy, I’d rather eat potato chips. Or if it has to be crisp, crunchy, and green, give me dill pickles. Or what the hell; dill-pickle-flavoured potato chips.
But back to my rigorous scientific analysis.
Broccoli is funny: It’s green (see, green is funny), and its resemblance to little trees is amusing. Plus, if you’re into childish humour, it stinks even when it’s fresh, and post-digestion it’s lethal if you get caught in the blast nimbus.
But just to mess up the ‘green and oddly-shaped’ theory, I also think persimmons are funny. There shouldn’t be anything intrinsically funny about a round yellow-orange fruit, but ‘persimmon’ is a giggle-worthy word in itself. When I was a kid I thought it was a made-up word; a colloquialism for a fruit that surely must have a more dignified name that the adults used. And persimmons have those little crispy-brown tutus around their stems.
Come to think of it, ‘tutu’ starts with ‘tu’…
Which fruits/veggies do you find funniest?