13 Comedic Anecdotes That Are Like Bedtime Stories for Adults

What if ‘Goodnight Moon’ were actually, ya know, funny?
13 Comedic Anecdotes That Are Like Bedtime Stories for Adults

Some comedians aim for an economy of words. They know that, just when they think their joke is perfect, that’s when the hard work of editing and cutting begins. 

These comedians do not think that way. When a joke hits the four-minute mark, that’s when they go through old notebooks and see if there are any more non sequiturs and stray observations they can pump in there like an overinflated basketball.

Larry Miller’s Five Stages of Drinking

“Level One. It’s 11 on a weeknight, you’ve had a few beers. You get up to leave because you have work the next day, and one of your friends buys another round. One of your UNEMPLOYED friends. Here at Level One, you think to yourself, ‘Oh come on, this is silly, as long as I get seven hours of sleep, I’m cool.’

“Level Two. It’s midnight. You’ve had a few more beers. You’ve just spent 20 minutes arguing against artificial turf. You get up to leave again, but at Level Two, a little devil appears on your shoulder. And now you’re thinking, ‘Hey! I’m out with my friends! What am I working for anyway? These are the good times! Besides, as long as I get five hours sleep, I’m cool.’

“Level Three. One in the morning. You’ve abandoned beer for tequila. You’ve just spent 20 minutes arguing for artificial turf. And now you’re thinking, ‘Our waitress is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen!’ At Level Three, you love the world. On the way to the bathroom, you buy a drink for the stranger at the end of the bar just because you like his face. You get drinking fantasies. Like, ‘Hey fellas, if we bought our own bar, we could live together forever. We could do it. Tommy, you could cook.’ But at Level Three, that devil is a little bit bigger — and he's buying. And you’re thinking ‘Oh, come on, come on now. As long as I get three hours sleep… and a complete change of blood, I’m cool.’

“Level Four. Two in the morning. And the devil is bartending. For last call, you ordered a bottle of rum and coke. You are artificial turf! This time on your way to the bathroom, you punch the stranger at the end of the bar. Just because you don’t like his face! And now you’re thinking, ‘Our busboy is the best looking man I’ve ever seen.’ You and your friends decide to leave, right after you get thrown out, and one of you knows an after-hours bar. And here, at Level Four, you actually think to yourself, ‘Well, as long as I’m only going to get a few hours sleep anyway, I may as well STAY UP ALL NIGHT! Yeah! That’d be good for me. I don’t mind going to that board meeting looking like Keith Richards. Yeah, I’ll turn that around, make it work for me. And besides, as long as I get 31 hours of sleep tomorrow… cool.’

“Level Five. Five in the morning, after unsuccessfully trying to get your money back at the tattoo parlor — ‘But I don’t even know anybody named Ruby!’ At this point, even the devil is going, ‘Uh, I gotta turn in. I gotta be in Hell at nine. I’ve got that brunch with Hitler, I can’t miss that.’ You and your friends wind up across the state line in a bar with guys who have been in prison as recently as that morning. At this point, you’re all drinking some kind of thick blue liquor, usually used to clean chromes. A waitress with fresh stitches comes over, and you’re thinking, ‘Someday I’m gonna marry that girl!’ One of your friends stands up and screams ‘We’re drivin’ to Florida!’ and passes out. 

“You crawl outside for air, and then you hit the worst part of Level Five: the sun. You weren’t expecting that, were you? You never do. You walk out of a bar in daylight, and you see people on their way to work, or jogging. And they look at you, and they know. And they say, ‘Who's Ruby?’ 

“Let’s be honest, if you're 19 and you stay up all night, it’s like a victory. Like you’ve beat the night. But if you’re over 30, then that sun is like God’s flashlight. We all say the same prayer then, ‘I swear, I will never do this again as long as I live!’ And some of us have that little addition, ‘...and this time, I mean it!’”

John Mulaney’s Run-In With Mick Jagger

For a guy who made his millions as a wordsmith, Mick Jagger uses remarkably few of them in his day-to-day life.

Gary Gulman’s (Mostly) True Story of How the States Got Their Abbreviations

“The preface is this: It’s a movie about the men and one woman who abbreviated all 50 states down to two letters. But if you’re too young or you don’t remember, there was a time in this country where every state had a different length abbreviation. It was chaos. Massachusetts was M-A-S-S. New York was N-Y. But Utah was ‘U-T-A.’ They just dropped the H. But then, in 1973, the post office said, ‘No, this can’t be anymore. We need uniformity. Every state must have a two capital-letter abbreviation.’ So they brought together a crack squad of abbreviators. They assembled a ragtag outfit of rogues, misfits and ne’er-do-wells.

“And these brave men and one woman were charged with abbreviating all 50 states down to two letters. Now, I read the description, and I thought to myself, ‘How are they gonna make a 98-minute documentary about a task that couldn’t have taken more than six minutes to complete?’ Boy, was I wrong. It was an adventure every bit as compelling as Helvetica. A tour de force. Ups and downs, ins and outs, friends became enemies. Enemies became friends. 

“They started off, and they thought it was gonna be easy. No. They said, ‘What’s the first one.’ ‘Alabama.’ ‘A-L. My God, this is easy. We’re gonna be finished before they stop serving breakfast in the hotel restaurant.’ Which was 9:30 and too early. The boss said, ‘Guys, if we finish before they stop serving breakfast, breakfast is on me.’ And one of the guys said, ‘I hope they have an omelet station.’ Just for context, the omelet station had just been invented, and understandably, it was sweeping the nation. This guy was thrilled. He was like, ‘I hope they have an omelet station.’ And this other guy said, ‘You know what? I’m not comfortable with the omelet station. I just feel like the omelet chef resents you. You know, ‘cause he didn’t want to be the omelet chef, he wanted to be the chef-chef. And now he’s making like the easiest dish while you and your ugly wife, and your stupid kids are watching him, demanding he put more ham cubes into a Denver omelet that’s already busting with cheese. And you get turkey-bacon, and now it’s healthy. No. I think, one day he’s gonna snap, and I don’t wanna be there when it happens.’ 

“And they said, ‘Well, then just get eggs benedict.’ ‘I don’t like holiday sauce.’ ‘Did you just say holiday sauce? It’s hollandaise, you fucking moron.’ And the boss said, ‘Guys, can we get back to abbreviating the states? We still have 49 left.’ Apologies were made and an understanding was reached, and they went back to abbreviating. They said, ‘What’s next?’ ‘Alaska.’ ‘Everybody cool with A-L?’ But somebody caught it. ‘Sir, I think we might have used that one before.’ ‘Are you sure?’ ‘Pretty sure.’ ‘Well, let’s just check the minutes. Dottie! Dottie, read the minutes back to us.’

“Dottie was the wise-cracking secretary. Every 1970s office had a wise-cracking secretary. And 60 percent of them were named Dottie. The other 40 percent, Carol. But this one was Dottie, and she was a card. A pistol, a hot ticket. Dottie was sassy. They said, ‘Dottie, read the minutes back to us.’ This is so Dottie. How Dottie is this? She goes, ‘You mean the minute.’ That is quintessential Dottie. That is Dottie in a nutshell. 

“He said, ‘Dottie. What are we gonna do with you?’ ‘Spank my ass and make me a martini.’ ‘Dottie, you’re incorrigible. Now read the minutes back to us, you little vixen.’ And she said, ‘It’s hollandaise, you fucking moron.’ ‘Et tu, Dottie? Et tu?’ ‘How do you know Shakespeare, but you don’t know hollandaise? That is a paradox. Anyhow Alaska, A-L. Alabama, A-L. We did use that one before, boss.’ 

“And the boss said… He was a leader, you gotta give him credit for this. He said, ‘Guys, not a big deal. We’ll come back to it. We’ll go ahead, we’ll circle back around, we’ll get it. It’s not gonna happen again. Certainly not gonna happen 27 more times.’ 

“Foreshadowing. ‘So what’s the next one?’ ‘Arizona.’ ‘A-R. Boom, I told you. Next.’ ‘Arkan…’ ‘Shit! All right. I’m sorry, guys. I… All right, all right. Let’s just keep going. We’ll come back to it.’ ‘California.’ ‘C-A. All right. There we go.’ ‘Colorado.’ ‘C-O. Some momentum.’ ‘Connecticut.’ ‘Fuck me hard!’ ‘Somebody needs a drink.’ ‘Not now, Dottie! You vulgar lush.’

“By the time they got to Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, followed by Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi and Missouri, shots were fired. They were at each other’s throats. They did what any savvy business would do — they hired a consultant. They brought in a contractor. Not a con-tractor. A cun-tractor. A man who made words smaller. By combining them or apostrophizing them. And he was the best. He was very respected in that field. He was very well-known because he had done some of the greatest abbreviations of all times. He wrote ‘o’clock.’ Many years ago, we would say, ‘It’s nine of the clock. It’s 10 of the clock.’ This man said, ‘We don’t need the of-of. I’ll do that with a sky comma.’ That’s how long ago it was. The apostrophe hadn’t been named yet. He also wrote ‘Beli’e that?’ Huge in some communities. He also wrote the most controversial abbreviation of all time. He wrote ‘won’t.’ People said, ‘How are you gonna abbreviate ‘will not’ and not use a single i?’ He said, ‘Watch me. What are you saying? I won’t be able to do it? I just did!’”

Norm Macdonald’s Impossibly Long Joke/subtitle]

Conan looked like he wanted to quit his job, and Andy Richter described this story as “someone taking you on a four-mile hike to show you a dog turd.”

Dave Chappelle Saw a Baby on the Corner While Waiting for His Limo Driver to Get Back From an Errand

“Now this is when I knew I was in a bad neighborhood. You only see this in the worst neighborhoods. Remember, it’s three in the morning. I look out the window, and there was a fucking baby standing on a corner. For real. And the baby didn’t even look scared. It was just standing there. I mean, it made me sad. It made me sad cause I wanted to help the baby. I was like, ‘Mm-mmm, I don’t trust you either. I’m sorry.’ Click. CLICK! The old baby on the corner trick, eh? Not gonna fall for that shit. 

“But as time goes by, I start feeling worse. Like, ‘Man, what is wrong with me? What the hell is wrong?’ I’m scared of a baby? This baby could be in trouble. He might need my help. I gotta do something. But I wasn’t gonna get out of the car. I just cracked the window a little bit. It was an old limousine. I could roll it down and shit. ‘Hey, baby! Baby, go home, man. It’s three in the morning. What the FUCK are you doing up?!’ 

“The baby said, ‘I’m selling weed!’ I said, ‘Ohhh shit.’ I wasn’t expecting that. I’m serious. I had to buy two bags from him to calm my nerves. ‘Let me get two. Let me get two times.’ 

“Got back in the car and rolled me a joint. That shit was scary, man. Every once in a while a crackhead would come up to the car and look in the window. It was like Jurassic Park and shit. He’d be looking around the car: ‘All right. Get outta here, cracky.’ But that baby was still standing there. I was like, ‘What the…’ 

“Then I started feeling bad again. You know how weed make you feel guilty sometimes. You be like, ‘Man, what is wrong with me, man?’ I have just bought weed from an infant. I can’t condone this kind of behavior. What am I thinking? I can’t let the fear ruin my morals. Gotta do something.’ ‘Hey baby. Stop selling weed. You got your whole life ahead of you!’ He said, ‘Fuck you! I got kids to feed.’”

What Maria Bamford Misses About Her Old Career in a Boring Office

She recounts the juiciest office drama, from Donna’s labelmaker to Key Lime Pie Yoplait to Southwestern Style Lean Cuisine.

Chris Rock’s Novel Take on Gun Control

“You don’t need no gun control, you know what you need? We need some bullet control. Wwe need to control the bullets. I think all bullets should cost $5,000. Five thousand dollars per bullet. You know why? Cause if a bullet cost $5,000, there would be no more innocent bystanders. Every time somebody got shot, we’d say, ‘Damn, he must have done something. Shit, he’s got $50,000 worth of bullets in his ass.’ People would think before they killed somebody if a bullet cost $5,000. ‘Man, I would blow your fucking head off… if I could afford it. I’m gonna get me another job, I’m going to start saving some money, and you’re a dead man. You’d better hope I can’t get no bullets on layaway.’ 

“So even if you get shot by a stray bullet, you wouldn't have to go to no doctor to get it taken out. Whoever shot you would take their bullet back, like, ‘I believe you got my property.’”

Sam Morril’s Brush With Greatness

Morril met a white-sweatsuited vigilante while on tour in Cleveland, and had an unforgettable night with the Jewish Black Panther, Joshua. 

Kevin Meany on His Overprotective Mother

“Anything in my house could poke an eye out when I was a kid. Be passing pizza across the table — ‘You’re going to take your brother’s eye out with that slice! Now put your goggles on and go to bed. And stop rolling around up there! Rolling in the bed. Why are you rolling? Your brothers don’t roll, your father doesn’t roll. You’re like a crazy person. Rolling, rolling, rolling, rolling. You’re going to fall out of that bed and poke your eye out.’ 

“They were crazy, not me! We couldn’t wear tight pants growing up in my family. We couldn’t wear tight pants. ‘You’re not wearing those tight pants out, mister. Put your big pants on. Going outside with tight pants on… we’re big pant people! Get upstairs to your room, put your big pants on! The Lands are coming over, and you’re wearing tight pants! Why? Your father doesn’t wear tight pants!’”

Shane Torres’ Defense of Guy Fieri

“Can someone please explain to me what the hell Guy Fieri ever did to anyone? People shit on that dude all the time, and as far as I can tell, all he ever did was follow his dreams. People are horrible to a television personality, and he didn’t do anything wrong! Here’s what he did do: He started a company where he hires everybody, he pays more than minimum wage, he gives health benefits before he has to, he has a nonprofit where he gives pretzel-making machines to schools so they can fundraise. I know that one sounds like I made it up, but I swear to Christ it’s true. He works with Special Olympics athletes, and if you need a little more sugar with this medicine, he also officiated a gay wedding. 

“But because he has flames on his shirt, everybody shits all over this dude like he’s a member of Nickelback. And by the way, what the hell did Nickelback ever do? They made 40 million bros happy! You don’t want them walking around pissed off, that’s how we ended up in this mess! 

“Look, I get it, I don’t want to hang out with Guy Fieri either. I know he looks like a Hot Topic manager moonlighting at a Fridays. ‘Well, what else has he done, Shane?’ I’m so glad you asked. He goes around the country to small businesses and gives them free advertising on a national platform on a weekly basis. Advertising those small businesses could never afford themselves, with his own television show. But because his hair looks like he was electrocuted while drinking Mountain Dew, people act like we need to saw his head off and put it on the internet. Meanwhile, y’all can’t get enough of Anthony Bourdain, and he seems like the kind of dude that would be mean to dogs. 

“I don’t understand what’s happening. ‘So I put on Rolling Stones T-shirts, and I tell food courts they suck.’ Come on! If you had to choose between being stuck in a foxhole with Anthony Bourdain or Guy Fieri, you’re gonna pick Fieri every time.”

Lenny Bruce’s Memorable Stint in Lima, Ohio

Life on the road is tough when you perform in parts of the country where Judaism confuses and enrages the locals. What’s more, the local waitresses weren’t quite hot enough for his liking!

Maria Bamford on Her Time in a Psych Ward

“I did have a friend come visit me in the hoosegow, in a psych ward, which is a great thing. That is amazing for somebody to come visit. Very grateful. But they gave me a real talking-to. ‘You know, I just feel like… This place is so negative. It’s got a lot of negative energy.’ I know. My brain is kind of going off like an untethered jackhammer, but I think I know what you mean, in terms of that guy screaming into the wall. I don’t know. He seems to make sense sometimes too. 

“‘You know, what you need to do is get out into nature. You know, get out in the woods.’ That’s what I said. I can get myself on a tree — you know, hang myself there. You know, like, get into a cold body of water and just float away. But they took away my shoelaces. 

“‘I just talked to my spiritual adviser, and he said that people who commit suicide, sometimes it’s time for them to go. That they just need to move to the next dimension, and I want to give you permission. I let you go.’ Okay, uh, you’re horrible, and please come visit me tomorrow, and you’re horrible, and please come visit. If you could bring me a 20-ounce Diet Coke, because they won’t let us have cans. Hey, why don’t you bring that little ray of sunshine over to the children’s hospital? ‘You wouldn’t have to make a wish if you believed.’”

Bert Kreischer on the Worst Gift He’s Ever Gotten

It also happens to be the only time he’s ever made his dad laugh.

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