My big fat Greek snowclone
Following on my fretting about the Eye
-- snowclone, playful allusion, or what? -- I've been
offered a couple more variants of Queer
Eye for the Straight Guy
, plus a note from Jay Cummings pointing
out a pun in the title: the straight guy is in fact the "straight man"
for the comedy in the show. And then I returned to a message from
Ken Callicott (back on 12 October), who started by wondering why some
expressions lend themselves to so much variation while others seem not
to, and then discovered that the stuff in the second group got messed
with too. And noted that the Wikipedia list of
was a goldmine of snowclones, which made him wonder
about "a (veritable) goldmine of X". Oi.
From Marc Ettlinger and Wendell Kimper, independently, a spin-off show Straight Plan for the Gay Man
, but with a reversed
premise). I think I was briefly aware of this short-lived show,
but averted my eyes from its obvious awfulness and then wiped it from
my memory. And from "acw", a wonderful Eye Guy riff, "black eye
for the white guy", suggesting that "some cool black dudes are going to
give hopeless white geeks some fashion advice" -- but, ouch, wait, it
sounds like the white guy's going to get a black eye!
On to Callicott, who distinguished formulas like
I'm not X, but I play one on TV.
I'm shocked, shocked to X.
Holy X, Batman!
(which he thought were easily generalized from their originals) from
The devil made me do it!
Show me the money!
Play it again, Sam!
(which he thought resisted substitution of novel words). Call
these group A and group B.
But then he (and I) started googling. The things in group B turn
out to have lots and lots of variants:
Made Me: X made me do it, where X
= my antidepressant, my genes, the VC, Satan, God, the dark side of The
Force, video games,...
Show Me: Show me the X, where X = monkey(s), science, numbers,
gold, poetry, value, jobs,...
Play It Again: Play it again, X, where X = Mick, Bud, Pete,
Pac-Man, RIAA, Gus, (MC) Shan, Maurice, Sledge,...
It Again Sam: X it again, Sam, where X = wear, repair, replay,
pay, read, say, use, sell, pitch, tax, write, parse, knit,...
Callicott also googled up these marvels:
Harvard, we have a problem.
Frankly, my dear, I don't give a spam.
"Frasier" has left the building.
Gag me with a Grammy.
It's people! The internet is made of people!
Then, on my own, I looked for variants of My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Vast numbers. For "my" you can get pretty much any determiner:
any possessive, "a". "the", "no", "this". And "big" can be, um,
expanded to "great big". But the real action is in substitutions
for "Greek" and "wedding":
big fat X wedding, where X = gay,
lesbian, dyke, queer, Jewish, Italian, Irish, New York, California,
Florida, Texas, family, church,...
big fat Greek Y, where Y = Buckeyes [Ohio State fraternity/sorority
members], supper, omelet, sandwich, stuffed peppers, feast, diet,
restaurant, cafe, shop, place, island, retreat, vacation, festival,
party, adventure, architecture, quiz, Emmy, employee benefit, Olympic
big fat XY, where XY = independent movie, American summer, lousy
screencast, queer life, physics project, class action, geek plate,
(Of course, I excluded examples where "big fat" could easily be taken
literally.) It looks like this one has developed into a Big Fat
Callicott concluded there was no real difference between groups A and
B, but I'm not so sure. I think that what we should conclude is that
almost any model can be playfully varied, but that some have turned into
relatively fixed prefab figures, with open slots: Play One, and
probably Big Fat. And I suspect that Shocked Shocked and Holy
Batman are still in group B, with the other playful allusions, though
maybe if they practice hard they can make it to the majors.
zwicky at-sign csli period stanford period edu
Posted by Arnold Zwicky at October 19, 2005 06:55 PM