Into Battle They Marched
Tomorrow is the big day, Decision Day, the irrevocable end to a year and a half of research and inner debate. I have painstakingly analyzed the contents of the entire Oxford English Dictionary in order to pare the entire language down to just two candidates for the title of Earth’s Funniest Word. Tomorrow it’s nougat versus chicken, and simply put, only one of these words is coming out alive.
I want to make it clear right now that there are no losers in this contest; both words fought valiantly to defeat all the others I considered, from assface to zucchini. At this point, I could really go either way---they’re both fantastic words, yet only one, regrettably, can be king.
On the one hand, we have nougat. The pros: its usage is satisfyingly rare and overly specific, it of course sounds funny to the ear, and it’s hilarious on its own, with no context necessary whatsoever: you can just stand on a crowded street corner and say “nougat” and stop right there and people will laugh. Plus, it stands up to the Stanley Kubrick Film Title Insertion Rule: Can you put it into the title of a Stanley Kubrick film and wind up with something funny? Yes, yes, and yes. A Clockwork Nougat. Eyes Wide Nougat. 2001: A Space Nougat. Enough said.
But then there’s chicken. It’s got that 'k' sound we all love to hear, it has a longer history, and, most importantly, it represents a living, breathing creature which in itself is absurd to the point of genius. Nougat itself is not terribly amusing to the naked eye---and I should know, having produced three feature-length documentaries about it for Wisconsin Public Television---but a chicken? Come on. I’m dying just thinking about one. And the fact that after we mock them all their lives, we remorselessly slaughter them so we can have something to snack on while watching SportsCenter in an airport bar? It just makes the word fifty times more pleasurable.
Nougat. Chicken. The hours are dwindling fast, and somehow I still feel like I don’t have enough information to make my final decision. In the end, it may come down to the Monster Movie test: Which of these concepts would be sillier if it were to come from outer space and threaten humanity with unremitting carnage from above? The image of nougat pouring through the streets of Manhattan, drowning panicked and screaming pedestrians, as well as the Knicks' starting backcourt and Eve Ensler….not bad at all. But what about a giant chicken head rising into the sky from behind the Chrysler building, followed by a sudden flapping sound as the chicken prepares to attack? Just as solid, my friends. Just as solid.
You can see how difficult this choice is going to be on me. This is why I’m glad I waited till my seventh year of unemployment to make it, so I’m totally relaxed and focused.