Monday, November 15, 2010

Euphemisms Are So F*@#!ng Funny!

Last week, there was a lot of buzz about Cee-Lo Green replacing the lyrics to his song "F*ck You" with "Fox News" during the aired version of his performance on The Colbert Report. After seeing the bit, and subsequently seeing the unaired, uncensored version of the song, I got to thinking about why both versions are so damn funny.

As it is, the uncensored song is fantastic -- it's very catchy, upbeat, and I can honestly say I have never heard anyone say, or sing, "F*ck You" with so much enthusiasm and joy. Seriously... it's my new favorite song. If you haven't heard the uncensored, full-on "F*ck You" version, take 3:55 to watch and listen:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Cee Lo Green - F**k You
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionMarch to Keep Fear Alive

I know -- f*ckin' awesome, man! I think what makes it so brilliant -- and why it has become the unsung  anthem of 2010 (literally unsung -- it's the most popular song that nobody will air without heavy editing) is that it takes an inherently aggressive, nasty-sounding phrase and turns it into something silly and fun.

Like most basic cable, Comedy Central generally "bleeps" away the coarse language which, if it's done right, can actually add to the funny. But music is another matter entirely. Songs that are bleeped or "edited for radio" (which is a whole 'nuther topic I could go off on) are usually ruined in the process. But not "F*ck You." Because The Colbert Report had a brilliantly simple solution: the euphemism.

They could have used almost any phrase to replace the "f*ck you" and it still would have been funny. Go back and listen -- if the impossibly catchy hook isn't already earworming around your noggin -- but replace the "f*ck you" with almost any variation and you get some instant silliness:

I see you driving 'round town with the girl I love
And I'm like
I guess the change in my pocket wasn't enough
I'm like
Suck moo.
And puck her too...

"Fox News" just happened to be the best choice for their show, and inserting the euphemism aired the song in a way that a)- didn't hack it to pieces with ridiculous bleeps or edits, b)- was true to the spirit of the song, and c)- also made a great bit of comedic political commentary.

Usually, I prefer it when people say what they mean to say. But when writing for the funny, I think the lesson here is that sometimes, it is better to go out of your way to avoid saying what's so f*cking obvious*...

*Because everybody knows what the stupid asterisk really means.

Referenced links: The Colbert Report, Entertainment Weekly

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