The Only Time I’ll Reference Chris Farley
By now, loyal Daily Fuel readers have been regaled with a few good stories about me and my beloved roommate. We’re bonded together by a loud sense of humor and a love of hyper-specific pop culture debates, but on the surface we couldn’t be more different. I’m a focused writer from the midwest, and he’s an aspiring rockstar who loves to eat tinfoil. But somehow it works perfectly. We’re like a couple that’s not quite normal, almost odd…there has to be a script idea in here somewhere.
But last week, a close mutual friend made an observation about us that got me thinking. Last month, she decided that she wanted to watch each of her friends’ favorite piece of pop culture. She asked each of us for the one movie, album, book or TV show that we loved more than anything else. It was an easy answer for me…there’s nothing in this world that I enjoy half as much as Frasier. Watching the brilliant show in syndication was probably my first exposure to insanely great comedy writing, and no matter how many times I’ve seen each episode, they still make me laugh harder than anything on TV.
What amazes me about the show is how simple it is, while remaining consistently great. There is a finite amount of episode formats (Frasier gets a new girlfriend and screws things up remarkably, Martin mocks Frasier & Niles for doing something elitist, and Frasier & Niles are forced to do something lowbrow with hilarious results). Yet those three premises are soooo good, and the writing is soooo sharp, they never fail to dazzle. I still rewatch it more than I care to admit, but there are worse ways to spend time.
So after my friend started watching Frasier, she came to me with some interesting thoughts. She said that she couldn’t help but notice tons of my own speech habits in the characters of Frasier and Niles. Fine, I thought, I could do a lot worse. Then she said she noticed the same thing with my roommate and his favorite film, Tommy Boy. The outrageous Chris Farley movie, a definitive example of gross 90s stupidity, seems to have shaped his speech patterns as much as Frasier shaped mine. The two of us are opposites in part because our favorite art couldn’t be more different.
As we continued to run this experiment through the rest of our circle of friends, a pattern emerged. The movie or show someone watched the most during their early pre-teen years is always reflected in their current speech and sense of humor. When you begin to see just how large of an impact media has on us, it’s remarkable. As an aspiring TV writer, this thrilled me. Because if I can just make a great show that people watch while they’re young, I can shape them all into smaller versions of me! And the process is basically impossible to reverse. What’s better than that?
On a more serious note, this is a fascinating exercise to get to know both yourself and others better. If you stop for 30 seconds and think about the piece of culture that you internalized the most, I’m almost certain you’ll know what it is. And knowing a little bit more about yourself has never hurt anyone.