An Inside Joke

-by Michael

The inside joke is a wonderful phenomenon, isn’t it? At least, it can be. At its best, the inside joke is an integral part of the glue that binds together a batch of friends, often transcending years and miles to keep the relationships sustained and strong. Silly catchphrases, corny punchlines, oblique references – inside jokes are loads of fun for those on the inside.

Joanie and I have an astounding array of such jokes. Many are drawn from music, or our shared educational/work experiences, and so on. Some come from our families or mutual friends. But I must admit that a large number of our inside jokes arise from entertainment. Probably a disproportional number. OK, we watch too much television. But still! They make us laugh. All the time. And if there’s one thing that we need on a daily basis, it’s a healthy dose of laughs.

I’d like to share one of our favorite inside jokes with you today. We appropriated it from the “RiffTrax” ( (check it out, thank me later) on Jurassic Park – during the running commentary, one of the comedians repeatedly takes lines from the movie and turns them into rock band names via the following formula:

“Hey, I used to play bass for Via the Following Formula.”

The commentator does this at least a dozen times throughout the movie (the best fake band name is Frozen Embryo Storage – doesn’t that just sound like the kind of band that you’d love to go see for a ten dollar cover?) until finally his counterpart asks him if he actually knows how to play the bass. “Not a lick,” the first commentator admits, and then continues with the joke for the rest of the movie.

Joanie and I have been doing the exact same thing for the entirety of our marriage, plus about a year.

Commercial slogans? Check. Joanie used to play bass for You’re In Good Hands, and I provided low-register grooves for Where’s The Beef. Random sightings along the highway? Absolutely! And with our abundance of road trips, we’ve both had the chance to appropriate fun town names from Big Chimney (WV) to Muck City (Alabama) and everywhere in between, not to mention delightful road signs and ads. My favorite is probably the infamous sign on I65 in Alabama – “Go To Church Or The Devil Will Get You” – as it could easily be a combination band-name / album title:

“Thanks for listening, folks! That was the new number one single off of ‘Or The Devil Will Get You,’ the latest album by Go To Church.”

Random snippets of conversation, however, are our favorite source for these minor gags, and we keep constant vigilance for new ideas. (Hey, I used to play bass for Constant Vigilance for New Ideas!) Knitting While Intoxicated was a recent favorite, as was Sudden Necessity, as was Majestical Neutrality (yes, we know that Majestical is not, technically a word – we do not, technically, care). Common slang phrases such as The Way We Roll or See What Had Happened Was abound in the fields of this joke. And hilariously out-of-context statements by strangers on trains regarding What He Or She Said, Where Do We Get Off, I Think It’s Coming In Purple, and so on have all become former band names for one of the two of us.

I know it loses something in translation. That’s the nature of the inside joke – you’ve got to be inside. But if you can find somebody to share this with, give it a whirl – because it’s fun being inside. You might even find yourself playing for bands with names like Okay That’s Enough Michael, or Put A Sock In It, or Stop Or I Will Cut You.