Saturday, January 13, 2007

"How cold was it?" -- A great vaudeville trope: One of the great traditions of American stand-up comedy is -- well, stand-up comedy itself: didn't we invent it? Anyway, I'm referring specifically to one-liners of the "It's so x," variety, as in "It's so cold,...", "It's so hot,...", "My town was so small,..."

Real comedy aficionados hear it coming and, like groupies singing a refrain along with the band, they fall into character:

PERFORMER: Man, today it was so cold --
AUDIENCE IN UNISON: How cold was it?
PERFORMER: It was so cold, [jokes follow here].

Here are some examples involving small towns:

* My town was so small, it was a one-horse town -- and then the horse left.

* My town was so small, the Episcopalians handled snakes.

The existing stock of perennials can be supplemented by topical references. So, apparently, after a warm fall and early winter, it suddenly got cold in New York the other day. How cold was it? Letterman's got a million of 'em:
It was so cold, I went into the Hello Deli just for the heartburn.

It was so cold, I took Viagra just for the warm flush.

It was so cold, Barry Bonds tested positive for soup.

It was so cold, Britney Spears is wearing underpants.

It was so cold, Donald Trump fired off a scathing letter to Al Roker.

It was so cold, Mark McGwire was rejected by the Curling Hall of Fame.

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