January 24, 2006

A four-letter word beginning with F...

What's a four-letter word beginning with F that's guaranteed to make everyone laugh?

Back in November, Barbara and I went to see The Capitol Steps perform their satire show live in Harvard's Sanders Theater. At the beginning of every event in the Sanders Theater there is a calm-voiced announcement over the speaker system telling everyone to turn off their cell phones and to look round and check the location of the nearest exit to where they are sitting. But on this occasion the voice continued: "In the event of an emergency, do not leave the theater. Remain in your seats, and wait for FEMA to arrive.

And of course the place erupted in laughter. Everyone roared. That's what last fall's bumbling in New Orleans by Michael "Heckuva Job" Brown has done to the reputation of a once important Federal agency. The very word is a joke. Roughly like smut.

Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at January 24, 2006 05:40 PM