Steve Durand (hat), Dog Boy, and me in 1985.


Laughing your face off happens a lot more when you’re a kid than when you’re old. Remember those break downs in grade school when you’d have to hide your head behind a textbook because you were laughing so hard? Then the teacher throws gasoline on the fire by telling you to, “Stop right now, so help me God.” What a humorless sow. How could she not at least chortle a little bit when she sees a kid in that state?

Adolescence still retains some of those laughs because the only pain you’ve endured is the odd break up. Then in adulthood you’ve seen so much genocide, famine, war, disease, poverty, hatred and Mondays, you only get about one crippling laugh a year. They’re rare but when they come it’s like a hilarious stampede that makes up for lost time with a vengeance.

Anyhizzles, here’s ten doozies randomly picked from the past 40 years of having lungs and a face.

1. THROWING A STICK (I was 8 years old)
I was walking through a forest with my best pal Lee Gratton who resembled the fat kid from Stand By Me. We were talking about the kind of havoc Transformers could wreak on Smurfs when I picked up a stick that looked exactly like a heavy boomerang. I arched back and whipped the stick with the velocity of a superhero and it went flinging through the air at over 100 mph. We both watched it spin like a murderous propeller but when it finally hit the ground, it landed in a mud puddle and stuck in with a “splortch.” I don’t know if it was the fart sound of it hitting the mud, the fact that it stuck straight up or the part where we thought it was going to dramatically ricochet off some tree, but the second it happened, both our knees gave out and we collapsed on the ground in tears. We were laughing so hard for so long, I started to worry I was going to suffocate. It was one of those laughs where you physically try to put air back in your lungs using your hand.

When we finally recovered I asked Lee why that was so fucking funny and he said, “I have no idea.” Then I said, “It just sort of stuck there,” and the laughing began again.

2. LAUGH FACE (I was 14 years old)
In high school we had this game I highly recommend to students or anyone in an environment where laughing is frowned upon. It’s called “Laugh Face” and it entails drawing the most hilarious picture you possibly can and flashing it to your friend while the teacher isn’t looking. It helps if you look very serious when you show him your drawing like you don’t want him to laugh and would appreciate some constructive criticism.

This is a reproduction of a drawing Eric Digras did that made me spit-take so hard, I was sent to the principal’s office. I think the thing that really gave it an impact was the fact that Eric is terrible at drawing and I knew he must have worked his ass off to bring all these elements together.

3. “SLAP ME SOME SKIN, BOBBY” (I was 15 years old)
You may not remember this but marijuana doesn’t really work the first time you smoke it. In suburban Canada, where I grew up, it was all about hash and that shit takes forever for your body to figure out. The process for smoking it in the ’80s meant: putting a pebble in a large glass bottle, banging it on your heel until a small hole was made, picking up a small piece of hash with the heater of a lit cigarette, plugging the top of the bottle, inserting the cigarette into the hole so the hash cooked in the bottle, taking out the cigarette, and inhaling the smoking content, and finally, hacking your lungs out for five minutes. It was an ordeal.

About the 17th time we tried it, our little crew was sitting on lawn chairs in the backyard of some party we weren’t invited to. It’s hard to tell if you’re stoned, especially if you’ve never been before. Eventually Peter McCarthy breaks the silence by asking, “Are you guys feeling little, wiggly snakes go zipping through your body?” Then he made the motion with his hand so we’d know what he was talking about. Though this question sparked some smiling interest from the group, we soon faded back into silence before a very large farmer’s son named Szabo dropped to his knees, held out his hand and yelled to Peter, “SLAP ME SOME SKIN, BOBBY.” As we all catapulted off our chairs and laughed face down on the brick patio, we simultaneously realized our brains had finally struck pay dirt and we had just begun a long career of stonerdom. Szabo’s bizarre demand was fucking hilarious, don’t get me wrong, but it was the combination of knowing we had all finally accomplished something that really had us rolling in the aisles.

UPDATE: Today, 25 years later, we still use the term “Slap Me’s” to describe laughs. It almost gives me a slap me to hear a 40-something friend from those days saying, “Yeah, it wasn’t that funny of a movie. I mean, I had maybe a three Slap Me’s the whole time.”

4. CAR CRASH (I was 16 years old)
After discovering the merits of hash, we would make trips to the woods and hang out on a log getting high. This particular day trip was myself, a slightly older kid named Steve Durand and a handsome ladies’ man we all called Dog Boy. We found a spot with four dead trees lying in a square and walked along them making up stupid songs like, “Walkin’ the block, walkin’ the block, I’m changin’ my socks.” When it was time to go we all crawled into my tiny Chevette and headed home through a mountainous part of Quebec’s called Les Gatineaus.

While driving along this treacherous terrain, I had an amazing idea that I still think is amazing today: I pretended the steering wheel had locked and we had no brakes. If you ever want to try this I suggest using the clutch as the failed brake pad. Nobody ever checks to see what you’re frantically pushing on. “Oh my fucking God you guys,” I cried, “the steering wheel won’t move and I can’t brake!” They were too stoned to analyze the probability of both things failing and in fact, jumped right to phase ten of this problem, which is screaming real loud. Actually, Steve went way past that and into mourning. That’s right. When I looked to my right and pretended to panic, I saw Eric hollering at the top of his lungs like we were already going over the cliff. He had somehow sunk his fingernails into the dashboard and was holding on for dear life. When I checked the rear view mirror I saw a crying Steve simply staring at the ground and letting the tears hit the floor mats. He told me later he was focused on his parents reading the paper the next day and seeing “Three Local Boys Dead in Tragic Car Accident.”

I let the car stray all the way off the road and into the gravel that led up to the barrier on the edge of a particularly steep mountain. Then I put on the parking brake, hit the hazards and buried my face in my hands to commence one of the loudest laughs I had ever laughed up to that point. Eric started acting like Big Bird if he was C-3PO and on meth and kept saying, “Are you? Wait. Did you? Wait. What? You never? Wait.” Then Steve finally said, “That is not cool, man. Not cool at all.” Eric stopped clucking and broke into the exact same laughter I was having. He was so happy to be alive, he didn’t mind I had given him primal screams. After about three long minutes of endless laughing Steve managed to eek out a few chortles, but man did Eric and I go for it. We almost died.

UPDATE: Steve now contends he knew it was a gag and was fake crying in order to scare Eric more. I 50% believe him.

5. DECAPITATION ON ACID (I was 17-years-old)
Steve, Dog Boy, a legal giant named Andy Miller and I were walking through a suburban golf course in the middle of the night. We were on acid. Steve noticed a tiny puddle of mud that looked sort of like a record made of poo so he jumped on it. Within less than a third of one tenth of a second, he was just a head sitting upright on the ground. This was on some Mary Queen of Scots shit. What happened to his body? Who chopped his head off? Can I laugh? So many questions.

Steve is a real man and he realized how important it was for us to laugh and then try to figure out who killed him. He said, “I’m OK. I’m OK. You can laugh” and Dog Boy and I celebrated by keeling over backwards and screaming “WHAT THE FUUUUCK!” in scream laughs. Andy wasn’t amused.

Being the Grape Ape that he is, Andy just reached into the round hole and pulled Steve out like he was a spoon caught in some Ben & Jerry’s. Steve fucking reeked and had the body of Swamp Thing. He looked down at himself, looked up at us and said, “Holy shit, I’m not stoned anymore.” That was even crazier than his decapitation. “How can you not be high?” we asked in shock. “I don’t know” he replied, “it’s gone.” Then he went over to a nearby stream to wash all the shit off himself.

UPDATE: I later did some research. Here’s what happened: Golf courses need to maintain a very high quality lawn at all times. That means manure must be kept on site and be made readily available to all the groundskeepers. Now, you don’t want a huge pile of steaming shit on your golf course so they drill these perfectly cylindrical tubes that are about 5’ deep and 1.5’ wide. What Steve thought was a tiny round puddle was the top of a huge hole and it instantly sucked him in right up to his neck.

6. BABY MUSTACHE (I was 24 years old)
Five years before I had kids, I took a Sharpie and drew a mustache on a baby’s face at a dinner party in the country. The owner was a single mom who was really mad but couldn’t beat me up, so I just got yelled at from all the women at the party and that was that.

The only other male and I had to take a knee every time we saw its stupid face. I think part of it was we were over all the oohing and aaahing this six-month-old was getting and the mustache called bullshit on it. It didn’t hurt that its little oblivious face had no idea what was so funny and its fat cheeks gave it this old, Russian politician demeanor that gave us no mercy whatsoever.

UPDATE: I’ve since had kids and cannot believe I drew a mustache on someone’s baby

7. JIZZ FACE (I was 30 years old)
I had recently moved to New York and was hanging out with Ryan McGinley a lot. We were all sitting around drinking beer and doing drugs at some pretty girl’s apartment when Ryan came bounding out of the bathroom with cum all over his face. He was so covered he looked like he had been blasted by a guy who spent the past three years in solitary confinement holding it in. Also, I’d never seen a male with jizz on his face before.

He said, “Hey guys, are we going to be going out later or do you just want to hang out here?” The fact that he was being so nonchalant about the kind of thing that would give most of us life nightmares made me slide forward off the couch like I was on a broken chairlift without a safety bar. As Ryan stood there dripping with blobs, I sat there dying on all fours only occasionally looking up to confirm what I was seeing was real. He’d smile and give a knowing nod that said, “Yep, it’s cum,” and my head would go back to the floor to continue the Cry Laugh. It was like seeing your dad with tits or your mom with a beard. I had no file for it in my brain, which brings me to why the gag was so successful: If you are going to scare someone by doing something like leaping out from behind a door, don’t say “Boo.” It’s way more confusing to come stampeding towards the person with some serious question about taxes or where you left your socks. Boo is already filed under “S” for “Someone’s trying to scare you.” Random banter has no file and it gives the joke that secondary umph that really draws out, what is essentially shock humor.

UPDATE: I have since learned that it was hand soap, not semen, on his face and this blow was so crushing, I’ve decided to ruin it for you too.

8. CHIN’S PINK HAIR (I was 31 years old)
Texans really know how to party and I’d move to the South tomorrow if it wasn’t a microwave for six months of the year. This “Pink Party” in Austin was no exception. An incredibly fey (but straight) bar owner we call Stockbroker was having a party to celebrate some local politician who had been caught with his hand in the penis jar. Everyone was to dress in pink and come to his house to drink. It was fun as hell but an old friend of Stockbroker’s named Chin (short for Christian) couldn’t stop antagonizing our host. Every time Stock walked by, Chin would knock the plastic cup of beer out of his hand or ram into him or steal his shoe or throw cake at his car. Stockbroker let it all pile up until he had more than enough and went to procure some of the pink industrial house paint he had used to create props for the event. (Incidentally, this was some of that primer paint that doubles as actual paint and although it appears to be more expensive, you actually save money and time in the long run because you do one less coat.)

When Chin approached Stockbroker for injustice number 36, Stockbroker surprised his assailant with a huge cup of pink paint to the top of the hair. Chin was working as a wine rep at that time and I instantly realized he’d be going restaurant to restaurant, trying to sell booze to people while they stared at a giant spiky patch of pink hair.

Then things got really good: Somehow, I managed to convince Chin the best way to get rid of oil-based paint was to hit it with as much water as possible, now! He ran to the bathroom and I held the showerhead while he brought that paint to every corner of his scalp. The laughs you hear in the video are me realizing I had successfully taken that one patch and spread it all over his entire head of hair so now he’s either bald or a British punk rocker from 1979 walking into fancy restaurants in a suit, trying to make a sale. If you listen closely you can hear he knows it’s funny and is letting out some small guffaws of his own.

UPDATE: Bad news. Some stool pigeon at the party explained to him that only oil can take out oil-based paint. He got some Mazola and had it pretty much taken care of by the end of the night. Shit.

9. SARAH THE VANISHING REDHEAD (I was 35 years old)
This is easily the hardest I’ve ever laughed in my whole life. We were on holiday with some friends in St. Marten. Off the beach there were these floating bouncy castles with no ceiling that propelled you pretty far into the sky on each bounce. Where a trampoline would give you an extra foot for each bounce, this thing gave you a good three feet. My wife, a huge tattooed guy named Trevor, some random Germans, our redheaded friend Sarah and I paid our $5 and were having a gay old time jumping up and down on inflated vinyl on the ocean. It makes you giddy to jump on this thing because you can’t believe how high you’re going. To be giggling in mid-air and see someone you know is so ridiculous and awkward, it makes you laugh even harder.

I had bounced over to where Sarah was jumping and we were both having pretty normal laughs going up and down and up and down and—blip. She’s gone. She’s not lying over there or sitting down for a break. She’s completely fucking gone. It was as confusing as talking to a Time Traveler who didn’t choose when she was going to be taken away. While my wife and I stood there questioning physics, we heard Sarah spew out a watery laugh from the ocean on the other side of the short bouncy fence that surrounded us. We quickly realized there is no seam between the “fence” and the floor and she had bounced so close to the edge she literally slipped through the crack and plunged into the water. Holy shit did we die. We weren’t laughing; we were scream laughing like we won the lottery and did the whole world at the same time. It was the laughs of the earlier bounces PLUS the hilarity of thinking physics had been defied and we simply couldn’t deal. After holding each other’s arms and yelling like tweens, we both fell to the mat and saw everyone else was scream laughing too.

Trevor later told me he rolled over and was face-to-face with a German guy and there he was, laughing with a stranger over Sarah’s pratfall. “It was really funny,” he said on laughing with a stranger, “but it was also really weird and it’s not something I’d like to try again.”

UPDATE: Just called her. Apparently the inflatable fence was meant to be stitched to the bouncy part all the way around. She noticed a small tear and for some reason, was compelled to go bounce near it. She said she gets how funny it was for us but she found it pretty fucking scary.

Duncan losing his shit (he hates overalls).

10. BALLOON FREAK OUT (This happened last Sunday; I’m 40)
My wife bought this bag of long balloons that comes with a pump. After you inflate the balloon, you let it go and it zips all over the room making a high pitched squeal. If you’re outside and you aim it right, it can climb a good 50 feet into the air before the mass of the latex brings it back down. My 4-year-old daughter Sophie was having a play date with her younger friend Cassidy and they were both trying to catch the balloons after they fell out of the sky. My youngest is two and he desperately wanted in on the action but lacked the acumen to zero in on each falling balloon. Every time one of the girls caught one, we’d yell “YAAAY!” way too loud and start clapping like idiots. The two losers would see this and become apoplectic with grief. This made us cheer the winner on even more. No pain no gain, right?

So, as my daughter ran towards her third victory in a row, my infant son raced next to her but then, for no good reason, with the balloon still climbing, gave up all hope and collapsed on to his back to begin the tantrum of the century. He was wearing a T-shirt and a diaper, and as he screamed, he kicked his legs so fast they became an angry blur.

The fact that he would be this distraught over –- probably -– not catching a balloon combined with the fact that I was hearing my kids cry in a situation that wasn’t an emergency made me laugh so goddamned hard, the other parents got more annoyed than amused. He heard my laugh, which made him more mad, which made me laugh even harder.

Little did that poor bugger know that not only is not catching a balloon not worth crying about, but he’s got a whole lifetime of the exact opposite to look forward to.