Zoo Story is an editorial column running bi-weekly on Aux.Out., Consequence of Sound’s space for long-form and alternative writing. The column is based ever-so slightly on a 1959 play by Edward Albee, ever-so-slightly on topical events, and is mostly the thoughts of managing editor Jeremy D. Larson.
If you asked me two weeks ago what I thought the funniest thing was — the pinnacle of jokes, the uneclipsed apex comedy — I would have told you it’s the scene in Dr. Strangelove when Peter Sellers (as President Merkin Muffley) calls the Soviet President Dimitri Kisov to tell him that the United States are about to drop about 25 hydrogen bombs on his country. The wide camera angles of the war room, the cuts to George C. Scott (as General Turgidson — the names in this movie!) and his looks of incredulous concern, and of course Sellers’ nonpareil performance, the pink of subtlety, make it one of best scenes in cinema. It never ceases to make me laugh and I mean every time I watch it — especially when he says, “You know… just a little funny” at 1:17 — I’m cracking up.
If you asked me right now what I thought the funniest thing was, I would tell you it’s a short film called 2 minutes of axl rose asking for some reggae.
There is nothing funnier than this right now and possibly forever. Most of the memes disseminated from wherever memes come from have a short half-life to them (the DOA Harlem Shake being the most recent example), but 2 minutes of axl rose asking for some reggae appears to be timeless, like Stonehenge or Sade. This film, uploaded by user internetcasualty, is the viral equivalent of Moses coming down from the mountain and proclaiming how best we should lead our lives. All I have to do is think about either Axl Rose or reggae independently of one another and I either crack a smile or just start laughing. It’s what I will recall when I want to look like I’m having a great time at my nephew’s birthday party at Buffalo Wild Wings: I will think of Axl Rose ordering Guns ‘N’ Roses to play some reggae.
The problem is, right now, I’m so not kidding. This film has been a veil over my eyes – everything I see is colored with Axl Rose asking for some reggae.
First, I’m sorry, I’m way late to the game on seeing this. Its first major appearance was on BuzzFeed in December but somehow I missed it. I feel awful for bringing this up now but this film has preoccupied me so much, it has been such a source of hysteria and distraction for me, that to purge it from my system, I have to dismantle it and reduce it the molecular level. I have to ride Space Mountain with the lights on if I’m ever going to move past this. So, here is every last thing that is funny and everlasting about the film, 2 minutes of axl rose asking for some reggae:
— The First Immutable Law of Axl Rose is that anything Axl Rose does is funny.
— It is important to note the distinction between this law and the common phrase, “Axl Rose is a joke.” That opinion is certainly tied to the law, but it is still subjective. The law refers specifically to the actions of Axl Rose. Axl Rose drinking a glass of water is funny. Axl Rose opening the dishwasher because he can’t remember if the dishes are clean is funny. Axl Rose taking a key off of a key ring is funny. Axl Rose being in Guns ‘N’ Roses is funny. Axl Rose can be doing anything and there is humor inherent in his actions.
— The First Immutable Law of Axl Rose is co-dependent on several things, the first of which is his name being Axl Rose. When your actual name could be a band name, you have given yourself over to ridicule for the rest of your life, independent of your behavior.
— The First Immutable Law of Axl Rose is further co-dependent on Axl Rose’s personality. Axl Rose is an archetype for manners unbecoming of normal society. It’s not just historical anymore, it’s algorithmic:
— Reggae can also be funny, though the circumstances for finding humor in reggae are slightly more narrow. The idea that reggae is funny stems mainly from the appropriation of reggae by white, middle-class stoners and its commodification by private companies to use as a marketing tool to appeal to white, middle-class stoners.
— Therefore humor, or irony, is often found when the destitute, political, and religious origins of reggae music are diluted and reduced to three colors, a spliff, and a silhouette of Bob Marley. The idea that reggae in and of itself is funny was the pivotal joke in a popular sketch on the show Portlandia.
— Therefore, without even seeing the film, the very idea of Axl Rose asking for some reggae is funny. We can now feel free to enumerate the moments of comedy in this film under the assumption that every moment in the film is in some way or another funny.
— Take this sentence out of context: “Two minutes of Axl Rose asking for some reggae.” What could this possibly be? Where is Axl Rose? Is he on the phone? Is he at the deli? Is he at a reggae concert? Why did he have to ask for two whole minutes? Was no one there? Was he being ignored? Can you imagine a bustling room full of people ignoring Axl Rose while he asks for some reggae? The petulance and frustration of asking for anything for two minutes is apparent, but here? It’s off the charts.
— To the film itself: Axl Rose is wearing a fringed yellow leather coat, a red bandana, combat boots with rolled-down white socks, and white boxer briefs — like if The Naked Cowboy from Times Square took up meth.
— He doesn’t ask for reggae, he demands reggae.
— “Give me” is the ultimate selfish request. This is a selfish, arrogant request for reggae.
— He screams for Guns ‘N’ Roses to play a genre that is largely defined by how relaxed it is.
— He directs the command to the audience, not the band. This makes him look especially overzealous.
— The way he asks for it implies that he has been asking for several other genres, and none of them have been as powerful or as fitting as when he finally stumbled upon reggae. It’s Duck-Duck-Reggae.
— The optimistic inflection when Axl Rose says “reggae” sounds like this is the best idea he’s ever had.
— His arm-motion, the “take it away, boys!” gesture, is the final in a series of confident actions that help set up what’s to come.
— Once Axl Rose commands the rock band Guns ‘N’ Roses to give him reggae, the band matches Rose’s enthusiasm and proceeds to play a groove that makes “D’yer Ma’ker” sound like “Lively Up Yourself”. It’s exactly the kind of reggae you would expect if Guns ‘N’ Roses had 10 seconds to learn a reggae song or they would be summarily executed.
— Axl Rose then shuffles backwards into a corner, hand unfortunately super-glued to the microphone, dragging with him the mic stand.
— Axl Rose is dancing so wildly that he is clearly enjoying the reggae that he asked for.
— Meanwhile Gilby Clarke is playing nothing even close to a reggae riff except for maybe he’s playing the treble strings of the guitar.
— Clarke is stomping his foot like he’s at a hoedown.
— Axl trains his eyes on Clarke, gives him a mean look like “Yeah, buddy, that’s the heat I was looking for. Cook it up!”
— And then it repeats.
— It repeats in perfect rhythm — perfect synchronicity.
— It becomes its own song, a piece of loop music, the words “gimme some reggae” succumb to semantic satiation and eventually become just tones, and everything starts to deconstruct, and your thoughts start to collapse in on themselves, involuted and unstable. It’s like a companion piece to the Ekkard Ehler’s “Plays John Cassavetes Pt. 1″ only instead of the opening notes of The Beatles’ “Good Night”, it’s Axl Rose’s asking for some reggae.
— This, of course, is very funny.
— Also, If you listen to it enough, it sounds like he’s saying “Gimme some merengue!” after a while. I’d like to see Adler and Duff pull that one off.
Whew. That helped. I think I can move on. I can start to crawl out of this purgatory — all I need is just a little patience.
Jeremy D. Larson is the managing editor of Consequence of Sound. His work has appeared in VICE, Time, The Classical, and Twitter.com