I posit that notion that corn is the most inherently funny of all vegetables. For one thing, it kicks off with the "K" sound which we all know is the funniest sound produced in the English language. Then there is its distinctly phallic shape. Yellow may be the color equivalent of the "K" sound; I will leave such arguments to the experts…but I'm right and anyone who disagrees is wrong. (Like with how I feel about the "Star Wars" prequels!) One thing is above argument. Corn has been utilized by filmmakers for some funny moments in American cinematic history.
Put corn on a stick and you've instantly doubled its potential for absurdity. "Nacho Libre" managed to twice take advantage of this rather unexpected culinary medium for corn consumption. The first laugh comes with Jack Black's high pitched admonition for his friend to "get that corn out of my face." Later on in "Nacho Libre", that same friend will use corn on a stick to go well beyond the unexpected and reach for the downright appalling. But still quite funny!
If you haven't seen "Nacho Libre" I don't want to spoil the moment, but it comes during a showdown on the streets between our two wrestling heroes and some petty thugs. All I can say is that one of the thugs definitely cannot be said to have an ear for corn.
The Sasquatch Gang
Despite "The Sasquatch Gang" being about the discovery of Bigfoot poop, one of the joys of this generation-defying family comedy is the way it avoids going for the lazy scatological joke. Imagine if "The Sasquatch Gang" had been written by Danny McBride; it would be nothing every offensive and offensively predictable poop joke imaginable stringed together.
You can get a taste for the filmmaker's likely heroic resistance to putting more butts in the seats by the taking that conspicuously less creative route by learning that the comic cameo by the veggie in question is a nothing more than an easily unheard throwaway line added by a kid when the subject of a very large teenager's bowel movement is inoffensively mentioned: "Tell them about the corn." On the computer screen here, that funny movie moment featuring corn doesn't seem likely to produce laughter, but in my house it's a rewind moment.
Corn's big comedic moment in "Big" actually contains a surprisingly insightful message about sociology. Don't laugh at people's ignorance, because everybody is ignorant of something and that ignorance is often based on class differences. Okay, go ahead and laugh when Tom Hank's little kid character who has magically inhabited an adult's body comes across baby corn for the first time. It looks just like regular corn, but it's smaller. So what would you do? You take the itty-bitty, teeny-tiny cob between your fingers and delicately bite the kernels off just like you would with a full sized piece of corn on the cob. That's how you eat baby corn, right?
The comedy that comes about as a result of shot inserted in Oliver Stone's biopic of George "W." Bush really isn't tied to the scene itself. If you blink you will miss what the split second focus on a woman stepping on a corn cob at a barbecue. That barbecue, it should be noted, is attended by only the types of rich Texans who are at the heart of the disastrous eight years of the Bush Presidency. From a narrative point of view, corn's very brief place in the sun in "W." is absolutely extraneous.
What lends this shot its comedic potential is the widespread discourse on the symbolic significance of the out-of-place insert that popped up following the film's release. Theories have ranged from quick glimpse of a woman stepping on a corncob symbolizing the out of control gluttony of the privileged to the desire to crush corn as a potential less profitable alternative fuel source. A comment left by someone who calls himself Ken on Scene-Stealers.com weighs in with this possibility: "Stepping off with the left foot has an ancient heritage…related to the idea of rebirth into a new life." Pretty heady stuff.
According to the editors of "W." this shortest of comedic starring roles by corn was inserted for unknown subconscious reasons, taken out and then put back in because Oliver Stone thought it was funny.
For more from Timothy Sexton, Yahoo!'s first Writer of the Year, check out:
- Arts & Entertainment
- Nacho Libre