Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Twelve Levels of "Making Fun" of Someone


After two weeks, I'd say it's time to move on from the Obama-FISA-Leftist Authoritarian Rule post. Since we somehow meandered through those topics and ended up back in the Top Ten High School Movies debate in the comment section, it seems like a good time to break out another list. After having my various levels of joking around all classified as "making fun of" my girlfriend (by my girlfriend), I decided that we needed to come up with a structured list of adjectives that described the many different levels of "making fun" so that an incident of mere frivolity was not characterized in the same way as a vitriolic screed. Along with her roommate, dp, bvm and I came up with 12 different levels. They've been written on the dry erase board (pictured above) in her kitchen for several months now and we refer to them frequently. She rarely gets above level 4; I float freely between 1 and 7, reserving 8 for people who really piss me off, 9 and 10 for politicians, and 11 and 12 for Republican politicians. Without further ado, I give you the Twelve Levels of "Making Fun":

1. jocular
2. frisky
3. saucy
4. droll
5. salty
6. acerbic

7. boorish
8. caustic
9. pernicious
10. venomous
11. vitriolic
12. scurrilous


fuge said...

I like Lists...I like cross blog list posts with lots of comments even more.

I think it's about time that the Foundation posts some list blogs again.

At least, this Foundation Member.

Also, I love the words Boorish and Scurrilous.

Dan said...

I look forward to your next list. Any exclusive VTK only hints as to the subject matter?

Boorish was the one word that was a bit of an aberration from the progression of tone, but it had to be included. Especially considering its prominent role in my arsenal of fun-making.

shayne said...

i'm quite fond of pernicious and vitriolic, myself.

i would just like to add that my word verification was cahkk. which, if you take the time to read it out loud, is cock said with a boston accent.

Dan said...

Isn't that cock said in any accent?

marshall said...

Looking at various definitions, I found that "scurrilous" has a range of definitions, some of which suggest the intensity of its placement on your list, and others which suggest a milder degree. However, it loses points for me because the word itself doesn't sound as intense as its meaning.

"Vitriolic", "venomous", and "caustic" all have a bonus onomatopia effect that reinforces their meaning, and therefore rank higher in my book.

I find it interesting that none of your terms directly name more passive-aggressive degrees of making fun of someone.

Just a few jocular thoughts...

Dan said...

Interesting. "Scurrilous" does have a prankish ring to it (he says to the prankster principal). "The impish scamp engaged in scurrilous pranks." Though, I guess most words would sound prankish if plugged into that sentence. I guess its placement in this list is the result of its common use in describing a destructive attack on one's character. At least that's how I think of it. "Venomous" and "vitriolic" are at least as negative as "scurrilous".

What words would describe passive aggressive ways of making fun of someone? We're not really passive aggressive people. Everything's right out there in the open. I rarely get accused of subtlety.

akboognish said...

Yeah, I could see putting scurrilous at no. 10 and bumping vitriolic and venomous to 11 and 12. Scurrilous is still pretty harsh, though, so it needs to be in the bottom 3.

Actually, I just read a definition for pernicious and although the word itself sounds milder than scurrilous, I think it has a harsher meaning in this context: "highly injurious or destructive" vs. "vulgar and evil". Pernicious seems to require injury to the target of the humor, where scurrilous doesn't; it could just be offensive in general.

Dan said...

It appears that it depends on which definition one is reading. Your definition of pernicious reads "highly injurious or destructive", whereas the one I'm reading on my dictionary widget says "having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way". Clearly that is still pretty negative, which is why it is located in the bottom third, but doesn't sound as bad as joking around that includes venom or vitriol. "Scurrilous" may be the out of place word here - it may be better placed after "caustic" - but ... I don't know. I'll have to bring it to the Committee (bvm and dp) before making any radical changes. Unfortunately, one is on the Appalachian Trail and the other is in South Africa, so it'll have to be tabled for now.

Michael5000 said...


Anonymous said...

I generally like it when VTK makes fun of me in a frisky manner, but sometimes it gets weird.

Kevin B

Dan said...

Is it because of the touching?

Are you reading the live blog? Truly unremarkable writing.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is great.

I am really enjoying it.

It is witty, insightful and informative.

Kevin B.

Dan said...

You're dancing between # 4 droll and # 5 salty right now. I know that dance. I've danced that dance. I'm immune to that dance. Dance on, dancer.

Anonymous said...

Dancing? I haven't even put on my legwarmers yet.

Kevin B.

Dan said...

What's the matter? Cold feet?

Anonymous said...

It just got weird again.

Kevin B.

Dan said...

Ah. My bad. I forgot that Kevin B dancing in legwarmers was filed under not weird.

lc said...

I don't know whether to feel proud or dismayed that I have personally experienced vtk's venomous and vitriolic (parlor game, anyone?)

Dan said...

Ah that damn parlor game. Was that venomous and vitriolic or just a souped up caustic. Whatever it was, I wasn't the only one engaging in it. Of course, my brother and I have over 30 years of history of making fun of eachother that runs the entire gamut of the list.

lc said...

true. I've seen him hit all 12 dead sober at work. maybe even talking to coworkers. Of course, that's the main reason why I'm a fan of your family.

Dan said...

Yes, the Nolan family has been known to spill right past this list into The Twelve Levels of Making Someone Feel Really Bad About Themselves list. We're not proud. It's just a free-for-all sometimes.