D'oh! He's pining for the fjords!
September 8, 2004 12:07 PM   Subscribe

Is there a way to gently steer someone away from constant Simpsons or Monty Python quoting? [MI]

I realize it's every nerd's right to quote from these two sources, but seeing as how pretty much everyone has seen every episode twice, is there a way to curb this behavior in a good friend's new significant other. Has anyone ever been successful in getting someone they know to stop their quoting or maybe just limiting it to a quick "... like the so-and-so sketch" instead reciting the whole scene? Is there a friendly way of saying "yes, we've all seen it"?
posted by milovoo to Human Relations (33 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best. Question. Ever.

Monty Python, Stephen Wright, and Blazing Saddles have forever been spoiled by every geek who thinks he (and it always seems to be a 'he') needs to quote every single damn line.

Try playing dumb. "Where's that from? Oh, you were doing Monty Python! Oh. I always thought thoughs guys had British accents. Hmmmm." He might begin to doubt his imitiation skills.

Actually, I think saying "yes, yes, we've all seen it." is friendly enough.
posted by bondcliff at 12:19 PM on September 8, 2004 [1 favorite]

thoughs = those.

posted by bondcliff at 12:20 PM on September 8, 2004

Forget about being gentle. Everytime he/she quotes some dork reference slap them and say "Don't be such a geek. This is for your own good."
posted by trbrts at 12:22 PM on September 8, 2004 [1 favorite]

First, you should just put up with this for 3 meetings.
Then start this countdown, upgrading your treatment as the symptoms persist:
At your next two meetings: Don't encourage them with polite laughter or any other aknowledgement that you get the reference. Not even a golf clap. Encourage others to make the same response.

At the third meeting tell the good friend that their SO is overdoing it.

At the fourth meeting tell the SO to back away and drop it because it isn't funny.

At the fifth meeting smack the hell out of them with a fish.

The other option is to just take it until you're so completely enraged that you go apeshit crazy and make a scene about it. This may also work.
posted by putzface_dickman at 12:23 PM on September 8, 2004

I do not tolerate excessive nerdishness. Quote a line, okay, no problem; I might even enjoy it. Recite a scene, get a dirty look. Do it again, get a violent outburst which usually begins, "Oh, for fuck's sake!" and gets worse from there.

Unfortunately, people socially-awkward enough not to realize that this is annoying probably won't get it. Ever. It's a normal mode of communication for some people, and if they don't respond to nonverbal cues that it's not funny/cute/acceptable, chances are they won't respond to anything else, either. Give up.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:26 PM on September 8, 2004

To me, this is a specific example of a more general question: how do you tell a friend to stop a particular behavior?

I don't think there's a perfect answer -- it will always be uncomfortable. But one important thing to remember is that people don't like being lowered on the social ladder. They don't like being put in a one-down position. By saying, "I really wish you'd stop doing X," you're creating a positioning system in which your needs are the important needs and they are disturbing them.

I think it's always more politic to give the offender and "out" of some kind:

"Boy, I quote from The Simpsons all the time too, and it drives my mom crazy. I hope this doesn't offend you, but when you do it, I can kind of see where my mom's coming from. We should probably both cut back on the quotes."

Of course, you might not want to do this, because you might be uncomfortable saying something that isn't 100% accurate (maybe you NEVER quote from The Simpsons). But sometimes you have to be political to get what you want.

If you'd rather go the honesty route, I suggest being honest about your discomfort too:

"I'm worried that you're going to hate me, but I kind of need to talk to you about something..."
posted by grumblebee at 12:27 PM on September 8, 2004

This person is "obnoxious," a condition that you, as a mere acquaintance, have no chance of changing.

Your best bet is to pose this problem to your good friend, in a tactful way [mention SO Good Point A, Good Point B, Quoting Problem]. The good friend does stand a chance of intervening successfully, but needs to be motivated by your tactful broaching of the issue.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:28 PM on September 8, 2004

Show them the episode of Family Guy where Stewie makes fun of the girl for saying "you are the weakest link." Or make them watch every episode of freaks and geeks.
posted by drezdn at 12:33 PM on September 8, 2004

"Boy, I quote from The Simpsons all the time too, and it drives my mom crazy. I hope this doesn't offend you, but when you do it, I can kind of see where my mom's coming from. We should probably both cut back on the quotes."

I totally mean this as a compliment -- that advice flashed me back to Highlights Magazine. Yo, Gallant!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:36 PM on September 8, 2004 [1 favorite]

Anonymously send the offender that Onion article, "Maybe I'll Impress Her With My Holy Grail Quotes."
posted by transona5 at 12:37 PM on September 8, 2004

Response by poster: One of the weird parts is that I feel like I should not ask my long-time friend to change this behavor, because if they are going to be together for a long time and I will have to deal with them separately, I would hate to have this new SO think that everything will always require a conversation the original friend. I'm trying to deal with them as their own individual. Then again, it's so 8th-grade-nerdy.

The troubling part is that it really sucks the air out of a mixed company room, partially because it's not quite funny without the visual and the right delivery, and partially because it really alienates those very few who may not have spent their formative years in front of an American TV.
posted by milovoo at 12:40 PM on September 8, 2004

Howabout if instead of actually quoting the simpsons, they start every other sentence with "remember when Homer was picking on Grimey..." etc.?
Not that I do that. Nope. Not me.
posted by signal at 12:42 PM on September 8, 2004

Fletch is still OK. Right? Guys?

Everyone I know (including myself) that suffered from this affliction basically outgrew it, so patience and awkward silence may be the recourse.

Soon it will devolve into the two or three most sacred. They will garble over time and morph into a shorthand so as to be unrecognizable to outsiders, but they will be hysterically funny to you and your SO/spouse for the rest of your lives. You will be extremely careful to never, ever, utter them in the presence of anyone else.
posted by jalexei at 12:55 PM on September 8, 2004

Try to catch his references before he says them, or during their delivery. Complete the sentence yourself. The message here is: "you're too predictable." He'll learn.
posted by Succa at 12:59 PM on September 8, 2004

I know it's cruel, but trust me, this works:
Whenever the SO laspes into their routine, turn to your friend with a knowing smile and cattily remark: "It looks like your guest is in fine form today...too bad we can't continue meeting up like this, but hey, there's always email."

Your friend will understandably be hurt, but over time, they'll get over it. The SO will likely be history at that point.
posted by Smart Dalek at 1:15 PM on September 8, 2004

Hit them over the head with a dead parrot?

Actually, you could count your blessings. My husband and I quote lines from "O Brother Where Art Thou."

"Course it's Pete, just look at him!"
posted by konolia at 1:17 PM on September 8, 2004

Turn them into a newt?

Here's one: every time a quote is offered, stop talking. Let the quote flop on the ground. After a long beat or two, resume the conversation with "ah, well... where where we? Oh yes..." After a few awkward pauses they'll get the hint.
posted by jazon at 1:32 PM on September 8, 2004

"don't be unoriginal"

Works every time.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:39 PM on September 8, 2004

Hmmm, well I have guy friends... so take this for what it's worth in your situation. We always give each other shit since we're guys and that's what guy's do (ex: one friend decides to spend a load on a Prada shirt for a date, I comment that no matter how much he pays his penis will still be small).

As such the over the top criticism may be the way to go. I find it hurts a lot less (from both a given standpoint and receiving standpoint). For example I had a friend who was in the same position and one night, at a party, after the fifteenth reference, I publically humiliated him and go, "Dude, Simpsons, that's so cool dude, I mean I totally watch that show. Did you see the show where he fell off the cliff? That's so funny, he goes like uh "darn" or something what's it that Homer says? Man that show's great."

I have no idea what that tactic is called but his comeback involved playing along "Yeah man that show is totally awesome, dude I have it on DVD", then me, "Oh man you have it on DVD you must be a huge fan!"

So he was able to save face and get the message. He thanked me later. Well he didn't thank me but no one was hurt, so if you can pull somethin off that's a sly, coy insult then do it.

If you are a woman I have no suggestions as women inherently act illogically in all social situations. This is a fact I cannot help it.
posted by geoff. at 1:42 PM on September 8, 2004

Best answer: Ha!

Someone in my group of San Francisco friends noticed we were doing this way too much, and everyone made a pact that if anyone utters a Simpsons phrase, the conversation is officially over, with the thought that if you were truly saying something worthwhile, it wouldn't be a Simpson's quote.

It worked like a charm as friends caught each other for about six months. It was like a big game of slug bug. The moment you heard something like "I bent my wookie" you would say "ok, I guess there's nothing left to talk about, goodbye" and leave.

It helped me cut waaaay back on it.
posted by mathowie at 1:47 PM on September 8, 2004 [10 favorites]

cut him some slack?

you say this is a new SO. maybe it's something that will stop as you actually get be something other than a relative stranger and this person is able to relax.

but, no, there's no friendly way to say to your friend or the new SO that you think SO drops too many simpson's quotes. it's not like you're pointing out spinach between someone's teeth. you're basically saying that SO's mannerisms annoy you and (s)he should change them because you think (s)he overdoes it.

if it was a good friend, you could tease him in the manner succa suggests and be seen as friendly. in this case, honestly, i don't think you can do this without seeming unfriendly.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:48 PM on September 8, 2004

Inform them that reminding someone of something funny is not the same thing as actually being funny.

I suppose you could ask "what's that from?" Being deliberately obtuse is always a good tactic.
posted by Jart at 1:56 PM on September 8, 2004 [1 favorite]

I had a work buddy who just wouldn't stop with the Holy Grail lines. I'm talking sitting in my cubicle for twenty minutes quoting lines.

I did what Jart said, and then told him I didn't think the movie was all that great (actually I don't-some funny bits but nothing all that fantastic) and that pretty much put a stop to it.
posted by Yossarian at 2:10 PM on September 8, 2004

Of course, the flip side is a buddy of mine who's a Simpsons encylopedia and a gifted mimic - he gets annoyed because everyone hounds him to keep going...
posted by jalexei at 2:17 PM on September 8, 2004

Buy them a DVD set of The Office and Office Space. That ought to clear it right up.
posted by mwhybark at 2:35 PM on September 8, 2004

Best answer: interesting...
it seems to boil down to whether this is the person's only mode of conversation or if they have other things to say.
to help change someone, if this is a major chunk of the person's personality, is to (somewhat Gallant-ly) give them an out by switching them to something they can talk about (so if they are getting completely blown off of this conversational line they don't feel completely blown off as a person). it's just a bit too much to tell someone to change and expect them to know how to do it.
it's touchy, knowing how verbally brutal to be. some people take it as a sign of "if they're joking, they accept me" and don't change the behavior until you have to break down and be blunt, just set in aside to do in private--
--and this is only if you want to make the investment of actually caring.
it's also only worth doing if it's not too discomfiting for you and you care enough to do it. And if you're the best one to do it and/or no one else will.
if people don't, it causes a lot of weird passive aggressive communities, passively enabling bad behavior that becomes worse just because no one ever said stop it.
too bad, sounds like the reliable straight man.
i knew a guy who was only tolerable when doing a jimmy stewart impression.
posted by ethylene at 2:43 PM on September 8, 2004

Simpsons Quote jar.
Tell 'em straight up, that they quote the simpsons way too much, and from now on, each memorable line is worth a quarter. Next time they tell you that "something is the source of and solution to all lifes problems" (knowing wink, etc), just rattle the thing in front of them and get them to pony up. If they refuse, remind them Homer did this in episode 8F16, and in the end there was money enough for a new kennel AND some Duff Beer.
posted by seanyboy at 3:07 PM on September 8, 2004

We had this problem in a house that I lived in at college. We eventually got a big claw hammer, set it out, and made the rule very clear: quote Monty Python, and you get hit with the hammer. It was remarkably successful.
posted by majcher at 3:11 PM on September 8, 2004

The best solution of all, though it probably won't work for milovoo: forward this thread to the offending party.
posted by louigi at 5:26 PM on September 8, 2004

If nerdy quotes are this guy's most annoying characteristic, he's already in the 90th percentile. People suck, get used to it.
posted by Eamon at 5:35 PM on September 8, 2004

Wow... I thought for sure this would be filled with Simpsons or Monty Python quotes. People are so nice in AskMe.
posted by Witty at 6:31 PM on September 8, 2004

they are, aren't they?
and i just forwarded this thread to someone.
posted by ethylene at 6:47 PM on September 8, 2004

Dave Chapelle of the wildly quoted show that bears his name, said recently (paraphrasing):
Cut that shit out. It's funny when I say it, not you

Point out to your verbally challenged friend that if he wants to be funny - be original; not stepping in the muck of every geek and post geek out there.
posted by filmgeek at 7:03 PM on September 8, 2004 [2 favorites]

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