Clapter

In Mike Sacks’ wonderful new book Poking a Dead Frog: Interviews with Today’s Top Comedy Writers, the author asks longtime Saturday Night Live head writer James Downey for a comedy pet peeve. Downey responds, “What has bothered me most for the last few years is that kind of lazy, political comedy, very safe but always pretending to be brave, that usually gets what my colleague Seth Meyers calls ‘clapter.’ Clapter is that earnest applause, with a few ‘whoops’ thrown in, that lets you know the audience agrees with you, but what you just said wasn’t funny enough to actually make them laugh.”

In Mike Sacks’ wonderful new book Poking a Dead Frog: Interviews with Today’s Top Comedy Writers, the author asks longtime Saturday Night Live head writer James Downey for a comedy pet peeve. Downey responds, “What has bothered me most for the last few years is that kind of lazy, political comedy, very safe but always pretending to be brave, that usually gets what my colleague Seth Meyers calls ‘clapter.’ Clapter is that earnest applause, with a few ‘whoops’ thrown in, that lets you know the audience agrees with you, but what you just said wasn’t funny enough to actually make them laugh.”

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Geronimo! When Is It OK to Use a Term with Native American Roots?

Among the many aftershocks of the killing of Osama bin Laden was the controversy over the use of “Geronimo” as a code-name for the terrorist.

Among the many linguistic aftershocks of the killing of Osama bin Laden—including the spread of terms such as “EKIA” (enemy killed in action) and the birth of the proofers, our latest conspiracy theorists—was the understandable controversy over the use of “Geronimo” as a code-name for Osama bin Laden. Geronimo was, after all, a defender of Apache tribal lands and Native American hero.

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Addicted to Addiction: A Word We’d Snort if We Could

The world has an obsession with "addiction", but what does that word even mean today?


Our collective use of the word "addiction" is getting out of hand. What are you hooked on?

A quick Twitter search shows the absurd range of meanings carried by one word: “addiction.” Pain-med addiction in the NFL and Charlie Sheen’s presumed addictions fit the medical definition, but apparently cupcake enthusiasts suffer from a "cake tin addiction." Technology is an addiction magnet: People love to confess/boast about their addiction to YouTube, iPhone, Droid, Twitter, and CrackBerry. Others have low-tech addictions to tattoos, Gatorade, worrying, hockey, green tea, Shamrock Shakes, coffee, white chocolate, porn, American Idol, jazz, love, and Reggie Bush. This word covers everything from America’s gasoline intake to a psychotherapy-soaked update of a classic excuse: “My dog has a digging addiction and buried my homework.”

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The History of the Word Rape

The recently abandoned Republican efforts to distinguish between "rape" and "forcible rape" sheds light on the word's perceived shades of gray.

The recently abandoned Republican effort to distinguish between "rape" and "forcible rape" sheds light on the word's perceived shades of gray.

Language is always changing, but there are some words that decent, non-evil people want to protect: One is “rape.”

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Chicago-Style: Backroom Deals, Deep-Dish Pizzas, and Assorted Slurs

Using "Chicago-style" as a signifier of corruption is nothing new, but does the phrase also insinuate something "un-American" about cities?

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What do you think of when you think “Chicago”?

If you’re not sure, don’t worry. Plenty of people will be glad to help you fill in the blanks. When Rahm Emanuel was briefly thrown off the ballot for major of Chicago, Salon called him a “victim of Chicago-style politics.” When William Daley was named Obama’s new chief of staff, William’s brother and longtime Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley was forced to deny the appointment was proof of a “Chicago mafia” swallowing the White House like a canoli. Even in small towns like Aspen, Chicago is a reference point for local problems, like when a recent letter writer to the Aspen Times wrote, “It all smells of Chicago-style bully tactics. Crush the opposition, send out your cronies to defame them.” Sounds like we’re living in the perfect era for The Chicago Code, which debuts February 7 and features cops battling—you guessed it—corruption.

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Articles

Let's Bury the Not-a-Word Myth

Turns of phrase like "irregardless," "prolly," and "imma" can be cringeworthy, but that doesn't mean they aren't words.

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Turns of phrase like "irregardless," "prolly," and "imma" can be cringeworthy, but that doesn't mean they aren't words.

Like any word nerd, the falling of snow reminds me of all those words for the white stuff used by the Inuits—and what a crock that hard-to-kill urban legend turned out to be.

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