“Shop smart. Shop S-Mart. You got that!?!” No matter how many times I say that line, it makes me laugh. The line is from the 1992 Bruce Campbell movie “Army of Darkness.” Not that most people know that. And you know what? I’m OK with that, because I get it.
For me, it’s the obscure things in life that stick in my mind – the B movies, the single season television shows, the names of celebrities that only my grandparents would know, and of course my personal favorite, random quotes. That’s why I believe in referencing things that you don’t expect others to get. Because if someone gets it, it’s a stellar shared moment. If not, you made yourself laugh.
The quotes that I find amusing hover around my mind like bats lightly flapping their wings, just waiting for the perfect moment to emerge. For instance, when the outlook of a situation is not good, I might say, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.” Or when someone needs directions, the first thing I’m likely to tell them is, “Well, it is a three day journey, as the Nazgul flies. And you’d better hope that you don’t have one of those on your tail.”
Most times, people look at me like I should be on multiple medications. However, since the main point of referencing obscure things is for self-entertainment, I don’t really care what they think at all. Because I got the joke. I laughed and that moment made my day a little better.
Occasionally, I toss out a random line and someone who hears it appreciates it. If they laugh too, fantastic, I’ve improved two people’s days.
Having someone get my references is a true rarity, but when they do I am almost always guaranteed to elicit a response along the lines of, “I LOVE that movie/show/weird old celebrity!!” After that, there usually a conversation about the aforementioned reference, and I’ve possibly even made a new friend.
This happened recently during rehearsals for a new play I was in. Coming into it, I was a bit of an outsider since most of the cast and crew had been in school together. While performing a physical team building activity, the I was in extremely close contact with two unfamiliar girls, so I did what came natural to me. With the elbow of a girl I barely knew jammed awkwardly into my ribs, the perfect line scrambled to the surface of my brain and I said, “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” She collapsed in laughter, her friend gave a loud snort, and I inevitably had secured not only my place in the “Gospel” cast, but new lasting friendships as well.
I may never have broken the ice and forged those friendships had I not came out with that line from “Casablanca.” Making obscure references is certainly not for everyone, but for those who hear its calling, it is guaranteed to brighten up any day. This I believe.