Posts Tagged ‘The Simpsons’

By Paul Gaszak, English Faculty

I was sabotaged yesterday.

This week, I have been visiting the Introduction to Communications courses at Robert Morris University to sell freshmen on taking my News Writing course next term. My colleagues have been generous in allowing me to steal some of their class time so I can make my pitch like an old-timey Miracle Tonic grifter.


And then there was Mr. David Pyle, the wiley saboteur.

Mr. Pyle is a comedy ninja. He waits silently in the shadows during office hours and meetings until the opportunity presents itself, then he leaps into the light, dropkicks you in the face with a brilliant joke, throws down a smoke bomb, and vanishes. He is effective and efficient. This may be because he trained with the League of Shadows’ little-known, yet highly successful Stand-up Comedy program.

Pyle Ninja

I am fortunate to work with lots of funny people, and Mr. Pyle may be the funniest of them all, in part because he isn’t one of those obnoxious people who spends all day trying to be funny. Like me.

Which brings us to yesterday when I visited his class during my promotional tour. He stepped in front of class and introduced me by stating that, in the past couple years, he has been forced to relinquish his title as funniest person at RMU to me.

You may think he offered me a great compliment.



Pyle returned to the lectern, leaving me adrift in a sea of silence on stage. When I glanced over at him, his expression said, “Try and make ‘em giggle now, you fat-headed jokester!”

In that moment, given the hype, I had to immediately say something hilarious to retain this title that was thrust upon me. It couldn’t be “lol” funny, or “LOL” or even “LMAO.” It had to be full-on ROTFLMAO.

So, I looked at the class and fired my best material:

Which of course means I had nothing. Absolutely nothing. I think I may have hiccuped, or sniffled, but that’s about it.

Pyle was victorious. He drank my milkshake. He sank my battleship. He shake and baked my title as comedy king, and I helped.

And that means that, once again, the Crowned King of Comedy at RMU is one Mr. David Pyle.

It is hard for anyone, in any field, to live up to lofty expectations. Pyle pushed me up onto the pedestal and I tumbled. I believe this was premeditated, that crafty saboteur. Now he can rest easy after knocking down his competition. Before, I may have been considered mildly funny, but now my comedic worth has fallen so far that I am going to start a support group with Andrew Dice Clay and Dane Cook.


Though I failed, I believe Mr. Pyle is funny enough to live up to the lofty comedy expectations, or even surpass them. He’s just that funny.

For example, he would still be funny if someone wrote a post on the internet about how funny he is.

Or if a colleague started a Facebook fan page that asks people to “LIKE” if Pyle is funny.

Or if that same colleague bought the domain name “” for a comedy tribute website. Or to sell to him if he becomes a dentist or the CEO of Orbit gum.

Yes, expectations can be rough. But Mr. Pyle’s got this! Just you wait and see. He will respond to this post with the funniest thing you’ve read this week, or maybe this month, or maybe EVER!

(This post was not endorsed by Mr. David Pyle or his representatives. Portions of this post may be exaggerated, or outright false. But it’s mostly true. Maybe. God Bless America.)

By Michael Stelzer Jocks, History Faculty.

I had a strange realization last quarter.  I was in my American History course, and I just mentioned in passing, apropos of nothing, that people get far too outraged at young men wearing baggy, low hanging pants.  To my surprise, my teenager/twenty-something students started to complain about the droopy trouser fashion in the gallery_1_1_11337 (1)exact same language as most octogenarians. I think some may have even muttered something about ‘kids these days’. I felt as though I was surrounded by cooler, younger Abe Simpsons, waving their fists at passing clouds.

I wouldn’t say this was the first time I have noticed this unexpected phenomenon.  I have heard students before speak of loose-fitting slacks in negative terms.  But, as I looked around the room this time, realizing the ethnic and racial diversity of a 40 person class at Robert Morris University, I was struck at the different characters reviling the fashion in a similar….well….fashion.  White, African-American, Latino, Asian, young, old, male, female; a small majority of the class had the same negative opinion when it came to baggy pants.

My mind started to wander.  As I checked in on social media in the days and weeks after this particular course last quarter, I saw a handful of memes posted by extremely different Facebook ‘friends’ that were supposed to be funny, but obviously masked a severe outrage and hatred concerning young men’s pants.  Again, the strangely divergent backgrounds of the people posting about an innocuous fashion trend struck me.  Old and young; white and black; urban and rural; educated and not-all-that-educated; men and women; northerner and southerner; liberal and conservative; religious and secular.  They all agreed on a topic.

It hit me! The outrage about baggy pants is pluralistically democratic.  I can’t think of any other social topic that a broader range of divergent people agree upon.

Ironically, I think this outrage is backfiring.  If these people want to get rid of the baggy pant look, they may be more advised to start practicing it themselves.   Most other youth fads, whether it be music, movies, language, or fashion, lose their revolutionary chops when less rebellious populations co-opt them.  As soon as mom and dad start to listen to rock and roll, rock and roll is dead. Along comes punk, and mom and dad are outraged. Long live rock and roll.

The baggy pant fashion has never been co-opted by mainstream society, and it probably never will. Perhaps this is why the baggy pant look is a freakishly long youth fashion trend.  The best I can figure, the look began around 20 years ago, gaining its first full-throated pop culture critique from Alicia Silverstone’s character in the film ‘Clueless’.  See this clip:

Such long lasting outrage raises two big question.  First, what upsets people so much about this fashion choice?  Is it the ‘sloppiness’ of the look, as Alicia Silverstone points out in that clip?  Or, is there something more sinister?  Is racial bias tied up in the disdain as well?

I am going to avoid this query, since I think each person who hates baggy pants has their own reason, and to pigeonhole anyone‘s particular feelings is unfair.

The second question is more intriguing, and, I believe, more important.  Why are people so outraged with another’s pants, all the while ignoring much more outrageous social ills? I will take up that troubling question in next week’s blog post.