For Three Comedians, Valentine's Day Makes For One Big Joke

Feb 14, 2015
Originally published on February 14, 2015 9:15 am

Love relationships have long been fodder for comedians. So on this Valentine's Day, a few of them explain why romance — or the lack of it — is so funny.

Marina Franklin, who's African-American, finds humor in the different nationalities and races of the guys she's dated.

"Whenever I date a white guy, I always lose weight. I don't know what they do," she jokes in a bit for CertifiedFunny.com. "Like, the last white guy I dated would do little subtle things to make sure I stayed thin — like, he would throw his napkin in my dish before I was done.

"Think about that — I was eating."

On dating a Puerto Rican, Franklin says, "I actually gained weight. Because Puerto Rican men, they feed you ... so nobody else will want you."

Writing and performing jokes about heartache is cathartic for comedians, Franklin says. "Who else gets to do that? Except ... you could journal. But there's nothing like getting this immediate response from an audience — that we [all] agree," she says.

So for Franklin, who's performing Saturday night at Stand Up NY in New York City, Valentine's Day is like nirvana. "It's sort of like the Christmas of love," she says.

But not for everybody.

"My grandparents were married for 62 years," comedian Ted Alexandro said at one of his shows. The audience clapped, but Alexandro didn't miss a beat when he added, "Not happily."

Alexandro is performing at Michael Moore's comedy festival in Traverse City, Mich., this weekend. On his most recent album, I Did It, he speaks a funny truth about how "real love" is "old love."

"You ever see when they bring out the couple that's been married the longest at a wedding? They look like war veterans. They just come out with ... shock on their face. That's real love — that look. Like, real love is no eye contact," he jokes.

Of all the subjects a comedian can write jokes about, Alexandro says love is so universal that it's an easy way to win over a room. "If I do a bit about police brutality, that's going to polarize a room way more than talking about old love or relationships. So it doesn't take as much massaging," he says.

Alexandro often jokes about the fact that, at 46, he's never married. Being single is "a good life," he said on The Late Show With David Letterman in 2011. "You make money, you get to keep it. You make plans, you can just break 'em," he joked.

Holidays that seem made for couples aren't Alexandro's favorites — nor are they fellow comedian Jim Gaffigan's.

"Valentine's Day is so icky and weird," Gaffigan says. He says it's a drag for singles and couples alike — and he's not buying that Valentine's Day is a reminder of love. "If you need the reminder, it's too late," he says.

"I was eating a pint of ice cream in sweat pants — like a man," jokes Gaffigan in his comedy special, Obsessed. "My wife came into the room and was like, 'Jim, are you gonna eat an entire pint of ice cream by yourself?' And I was like, 'Hopefully. Unless you selfishly want a bite.' "

Jim's wife Jeannie Gaffigan is always in on the joke. The couple write together and are currently working on a new series for TV Land and Comedy Central.

The Gaffigans also have five kids together. "Ten years ago I couldn't get a date. And now my apartment is literally crawling with babies. It's like I left peanut butter out or something," he says.

This Valentine's Day he and his wife will be hanging out with their kids.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Love and relationships have long been at the heart of comedies, so to mark this Valentine's Day, NPR's Elizabeth Blair spoke with a few comedians about why romance, or the lack thereof, can be so funny.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: Comedian Marina Franklin finds humor in the different nationalities and races of the guys she's dated. She's African-American.

(SOUNDBITE OF COMEDY PERFORMANCE)

MARINA FRANKLIN: Whenever I date a white guy I always lose weight. Like, the last white guy I dated would do little subtle things to make sure I stayed thin - like, he would throw his napkin in my dish before I was done.

(LAUGHTER)

FRANKLIN: Think about that - I was eating. He was like you're finished [expletive] and just threw it right in my plate.

BLAIR: Marina Franklin jokes about the Haitians and Latinos she's dated.

FRANKLIN: My last guy was Puerto Rican. And I actually gained weight because Puerto Rican men, they feed you so nobody else wants you.

(LAUGHTER)

BLAIR: Is it cathartic to write jokes about some heartache?

FRANKLIN: Of course it's cathartic. Who else gets to do that except for - you could journal, but there's nothing like getting this immediate response from an audience that we agree.

BLAIR: So Valentine's Day is like nirvana for Franklin. Tonight she's performing at Stand Up New York.

FRANKLIN: It's sort of like the Christmas of love.

BLAIR: But not for everybody.

(SOUNDBITE OF COMEDY PERFORMANCE)

TED ALEXANDRO: Like, my grandparents were married for 62 years - no, not happily.

(LAUGHTER)

BLAIR: Ted Alexandro is doing shows at Michael Moore's comedy Festival in Traverse City, Mich., this weekend. He speaks a funny truth about how real love is old love.

(SOUNDBITE OF COMEDY PERFORMANCE)

ALEXANDRO: Do you ever see, like, old love? Do you ever see, like, where they bring out the couple that's been married the longest at a wedding? They look like war veterans. They just come out like [expletive] shock on their face. That's real love - that look. Like, real love is no eye contact, just ehh.

(LAUGHTER)

BLAIR: Of all the subjects a comedian can write jokes about, Alexandro says love is so universal; it's an easy way to win over a room.

ALEXANDRO: You know, if I do a bit about police brutality, that's going to polarize a room way more than talking about old love or relationships you know? So it doesn't take as much massaging.

BLAIR: Alexandro often jokes about the fact that he's 46 years old and never married.

(SOUNDBITE OF COMEDY PERFORMANCE)

ALEXANDRO: But it's a good life. You make money. You get to keep it.

(LAUGHTER)

ALEXANDRO: You make plans. You can just break them.

(LAUGHTER)

ALEXANDRO: You can even overrule yourself. Like, oh, I got to go do that thing today. No, you don't. Oh, yeah, no I don't.

(LAUGHTER)

BLAIR: But holidays that seem made for couples are not Alexandro's favorites - same goes for comedian Jim Gaffigan.

JIM GAFFIGAN: Valentine's Day is so icky and weird.

BLAIR: Gaffigan says Valentine's Day is a drag for both single people and couples.

GAFFIGAN: If Valentine's Day is this reminder of love, it's, like - if you need the reminder it's too late.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "OBSESSED")

GAFFIGAN: I was eating a pint of ice cream in sweatpants like a man.

BLAIR: This is from Jim Gaffigan's comedy special "Obsessed."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "OBSESSED")

GAFFIGAN: My wife came in the room and she was like, Jim, are you going to eat an entire pint of ice cream by yourself? I was like hopefully.

(LAUGHTER)

GAFFIGAN: Unless you selfishly want a bite.

BLAIR: Jim's wife, Jeannie Gaffigan, is always in on the joke. They write together. They're currently working on a new TV series for TV Land and Comedy Central. The Gaffigans also have five kids together.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "OBSESSED")

GAFFIGAN: But 10 years ago I couldn't get a date. And now my apartment's literally crawling with babies. It's like I left peanut butter out or something.

(LAUGHTER)

BLAIR: This Valentine's Day, Jim Gaffigan says he and his wife will be hanging out with their kids. Elizabeth Blair, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOVE, YOU FUNNY THING")

LOUIS ARMSTRONG: (Singing) My love, you funny thing. Look at what you did to me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.