CLOSE
Original image

7 Reasons Frogs are Funny

Original image

Frogs are such ridiculous animals that everything about them is fodder for jokes or parodies. Frogs have been used in comedy for so long that you have to smile just looking at one!

1. Kissing a Frog

They say you've got to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince. The fairy tale The Frog Prince has the moral of not judging someone by their looks. The story of Beauty and the Beast would have been a sufficient tale for this concept, except for the fact that some women think horrible beasts are sexy. A frog? Not so much. The whole idea of kissing a frog is funny, but its also so easy to twist this tale into something you wouldn't expect.

2. Leapfrog
410leapfrogtomato.jpg
The amazing leaps frogs do has been studied by scientists and recreated in robotic form. It also lead to a pointless but funny-looking game that recently got the mayor of Belfast into a bit of trouble when he injured a tomato playing leap frog.

More frog funniness, after the jump.

3. Froglegs
435_frogwheelchair.jpg
Yes, they taste like chicken. The back legs are the only part of a frog that has enough meat to make cooking worthwhile. Cutting them away from the rest of the frog doesn't make them stop jumping, oh no! My mother cooked frog legs exactly once, and was so disgusted with chasing them all over the kitchen to put them back into the frying pan, that she forbade my dad from ever bringing more home. But the rest of the frog? Not edible. That's why you'll so often see cartoons about amputee frogs. A Google Image Search for "frog wheelchair" will yield a treasure of such comics.

4. Eating Flies
435frogtongue.jpg
Time's fun when you're having flies! A frog's tongue can move so far and so swiftly, the fly will never know what hit him. If you've ever seen it happen, you have to laugh. Add the unexpected and you have comedy gold.

5. Ribbit
435_froginthroat.jpg
The way frogs sound is funny. The usual frog croak is often translated as "ribbit", although the folks at Budweiser would disagree. A person with a hoarse or scratchy voice is said to have "a frog in the throat", which can scare literal-thinking children. The character Froggy from Our Gang got his nickname from his rough voice. When someone dies, we say he has "croaked". And some frogs can even scream!

6. Warts
435_wartytoad.jpg
I know what you're thinking -that's toads! But according to Wikipedia, there is no taxonomic reason for distinguishing frogs and toads. Toads are basically frogs who live on dry land. Some species of toads and frogs have parotoid glands which give the appearance of warts, but are not warts and are not contagious. They are, however, toxic. Dogs can get into trouble by catching a toad because the parotoid glands will exude poison. There have been stories for decades about people who lick toads in order to get high, but since proof or participants are as rare as hen's teeth, this is pretty much an urban legend.

7. Kermit the Frog

Jim Henson's favorite puppet that was his on-camera alter ego evolved into Kermit the Frog. Kermit became the star of ads, TV shows, and movies, but never let it go to his head. In fact, Kermit always had a melancholy self-effacing outlook. After all, it's not easy being green.

Original image
Chris Weeks // Staff // Getty Images
arrow
fun
Watch the Original Spinal Tap Short Film
Original image
Chris Weeks // Staff // Getty Images

Spinal Tap formed in 1979, five years before the classic film This is Spinal Tap premiered. They performed on TV and began developing their personas as idiotic heavy metal monsters.

When the band, along with director Rob Reiner, went to pitch their mockumentary to production companies, nobody "got it." It wasn't clear what an unscripted comedy pseudo-documentary would feel like. So Reiner asked for the screenplay fee—$60,000—to be paid up front as a budget for a short proof-of-concept film.

That skimpy budget went a very long way, allowing the group to produce The Last Tour, a 20-minute Spinal Tap film exploring some of the plot (and many of the songs) that appeared in the later film This is Spinal Tap. There's a surprising amount of concert footage, as various bits that were repeated in Tap (some interview clips were even used in Tap unaltered).

The Last Tour is delightful because it shows a well-developed idea being implemented on the cheap. The wigs are terrible, the sound is spotty, but the vision is spot-on. The characters and the core story of the group (including a string of dead drummers) is already in place, and we get to see the guys improvise together. Tune in (and be aware there's plenty of salty language here):

(Note: Around 4:38 in the clip above, we see Ed Begley, Jr. as original drummer John "Stumpy" Pepys in the "Gimme Some Money" video. Stumpy died in a gardening accident, of course.)

Original image
Warner Bros., IStock
arrow
History
When the FBI Went After Mad Magazine
Original image
Warner Bros., IStock

In a memo dated November 30, 1957, an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation identified as “A. Jones” raised an issue of critical importance: "Several complaints to the Bureau have been made concerning the 'Mad' comic book [sic], which at one time presented the horror of war to readers."

Attached to the document were pages taken from a recent issue of Mad that featured a tongue-in-cheek game about draft dodging. Players who earned such status were advised to write to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and request a membership card certifying themselves as a “full-fledged draft dodger.” At least three readers, the agent reported, did exactly that.

Mad, of course, was the wildly popular satirical magazine that was reaching upwards of a million readers every other month. Published by William Gaines, who had already gotten into some trouble with Congress when he was called to testify about his gruesome horror comics in 1954, Mad lampooned everyone and everything. But in name-checking the notoriously humorless Hoover, Gaines had invited the wrong kind of attention.

The memo got several facts incorrect: Mad had switched from a comic book to a magazine format in 1955, and it was Gaines’ E.C. Comics that had “presented the horror of war” in other titles. Despite getting these crucial pieces of information wrong, Jones didn’t hesitate to editorialize: "It is also of interest to note that…it is rather unfunny.”

The agent recommended the Bureau’s New York offices “make contact” with Mad’s headquarters to “advise them of our displeasure” and to make sure “that there be no repetition of such misuse of the Director’s name.”

Less than a week later, the Feds entered the hallowed hallways patrolled by Alfred E. Neuman. Their New York office would later report to Hoover directly that they had met with John Putnam, the magazine’s art director. (Conveniently, Gaines was not in that day.) Putnam told the agents he regretted the magazine using Hoover’s name and that nothing malicious was intended:

Putnam said that the use of the membership card and the name and address of the Director at the end of the game was referred to in their business as a 'gag' or 'kicker' in the same way that a comedian like Bob Hope or Milton Berle might use it.

Putnam swore that Mad would never again take Hoover’s name in vain; Gaines sent off a letter of sincere apology to the Director.

The Smoking Gun

Just two years later, in January 1960, Agent A. Jones was forced to file a second notice about the shenanigans at Mad. A recent issue had made not one, but two derogatory mentions of Hoover, including one in which he is blatantly and disrespectfully portrayed as being associated with a vacuum cleaner, “The Honorable J. Edgar Electrolux”:  

Obviously, Gaines was insincere in this promise…and has again placed the Director in a position of ridicule…it is felt we should contact Gaines…and firmly and severely admonish them concerning our displeasure…

It was by now clear Mad was not only polluting young minds, but that Gaines had absolutely no regard for the honorable Hoover’s position.

In June 1961, the FBI’s worst fears had been realized. Detailing an investigation into a Seattle-area extortion attempt led to the following:

Investigation … resulted in gaining admissions from the victim’s 12-year-old son and an 11-year-old companion that they had gotten the idea of preparing an extortion letter after reading the June issue of 'Mad' magazine.   

Working in concert with the Buffalo field office, the FBI determined another letter had been sent by a young boy demanding money in the style of a recent issue’s extortion advice. And there was a third under review that was sent to the agent of some professional wrestlers.

Mad was quickly becoming the scourge of the federal government. The FBI suggested the magazine be brought to the attention of the Attorney General for “instructing [readers] to deliberately violate the Federal Law.” They tried reaching out to Gaines, who was on vacation. (Time and again, Gaines simply not being in the office when called upon seemed to confound the FBI.)

Agent A. Jones, having exhausted all attempts to reason with these irresponsible anarchists, filed one last memo:

Despite assurances, they have continued to publish slurring remarks about the Bureau. In view of this situation, it was deemed useless to protest all such irresponsible remarks to a magazine of this poor judgment and capriciousness … we will have to wait and see if our action will result in increased discretion by this publication.

Poor A. Jones was unable to put an end to Mad’s reign of terror. But the magazine redeemed itself somewhat. In the 1970s, when the Bureau was trying to suppress the influence of the Ku Klux Klan, an agent suggested they copy and distribute a sticker from the magazine that read, “Support Mental Illness—Join the Klan!”

Hoover said no.

Additional Sources:
The Smoking Gun.

SECTIONS

More from mental floss studios