A few hours ago, I landed in Los Angeles, turned on my phone, and confirmed what you already know. Sony Pictures Television is replacing me as showrunner on Community, with two seasoned fellows that I’m sure are quite nice - actually, I have it on good authority they’re quite nice, because…
This story by Ben Yagoda on what we, as writers, can do about and with cliches inspired me to get back on Tumblr and compile a list. Yagoda calls upon George Orwell, who in his famous essay “Politics and the English Language” writes that cliches are metaphors that have lost “all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves.” He calls them “dying.”
A dead metaphor is actually less useless, because it “has in effect reverted to being an ordinary word and can generally be used without loss of vividness,” Orwell writes.
Yagoda offers a coping mechanism for dealing with a metaphor after it starts to die: turning to the old switcheroo. He uses as an example a line from a 1985 television movie called “Romance on the Orient”: “I’m not looking for Mr. Right, I’m looking for Mr. Right Now.”
While I am now and forever more a proponent of the cliche-turned-sideways approach, I’d like to draw attention to another coping mechanism: the cliche-turned-pun. It’s real simple. All you have to do is replace one or two words in a cliched phrase with rhyming alternatives that change the meaning to something far more interesting and unheard of.
Here’s what I came up with:
The best is yet to some… just OK.
Allowed to be an American.
Mormon a feeling.
Fought with his hand in the cookie jar.
A rose by any other name is still aroused.
I’m not sure if I’m hungry, or just bored to pizzas.
I left my shame somewhere over the Jane Doe.
(I should apologize for my shameless “sneaking” of metaphors and cliches into this post. I really should.)
This and the others are from an Open Mic Wednesday night at Opus in Syracuse. Recordings courtesy of Dave. (Thanks, Dave!)
This is the most biased (north-leaning) AP coverage I’ve ever seen. “Santa’s so happy and jolly because he knows where all the naughty girls and boys live.” I’d say that’s a fireable offense, albeit a hilarious one! Though one has to wonder why this adult couple with no sense of humor was sitting on Santa’s lap.
People are selling “ugly Christmas sweaters” on eBay (for $25, consistently!) and marketing them as such. Looks like you’ve finally plateaued, irony. It’s all downhill from here.