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Happy Birthday, Patton Oswalt!

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Image courtesy of Flickr user Gage Skidmore

You may know him as the voice of Remy, the amazing rat chef in Ratatouille, for his stand-up routines featured on Comedy Central, or for his role as Spence Olchin in King of Queens. But here are some things you might not know about Patton Oswalt, who happens to be turning 43 today.

1. The comedian’s father, who was a Marine, named him after General Patton. ”He gave me the first name Patton, I'm assuming with very high hopes. When he saw me at age 15, rolling up my eighth Dungeons and Dragons character, he was like, ‘boy, I named this one wrong.’”

2. While most actors either seek artistic integrity or a big paycheck, Patton chooses his roles a little differently. According to Oswalt, "I'm in this business for two reasons: the money and the anecdotes. So I either want to be in the best films possible, and if I can't be in those then I want to be in the absolute worst films, because I want the stories. To me doing Ratatouille was just as valuable as doing Blade Trinity."

3. Despite having a famous rant about KFC’s Famous Bowl on his 2004 comedy album Feelin’ Kinda Patton, the comedian never actually tried the dish until the A.V. Club asked him to taste-test it four years later. His verdict? “It's goddamn horrible, this Famous Bowl.” Well, at least he gave it a shot.


Image courtesy of Flickr user Morton Fox

4. Just because he’s worked on something doesn’t mean you’ll see his name in the credits. That’s because Patton has a few aliases, including Schecky Chucklestein (which he’s used on a number of Adult Swim shows) and Ain’t It Cool News reviewer Neill Cumpston. There is also a bit of a debate as to whether or not he voiced the character of Randy on the game Dead Rising 2, which was credited to a John Murphy. Oswalt denies he worked on the game, but he also denied being Neill Cumpston for a long while.

5. He really does love Ratatouille—and not just the movie. Unfortunately, in an interview in 2010, he revealed that while he orders the dish on occasion, he’s been a little disappointed no chef has ever opted to bring him ratatouille on his or her own accord.

6. For most people, getting to star in a sex scene with one of the most gorgeous women in Hollywood would be a dream. But for Patton Oswalt, his love scene with Charlize Theron was terrifying. “Why do I have to be in my underwear next to the most physically perfect person on the planet? Why couldn’t I have been next to John Goodman or Michael Moore in their underwear?”

7. He's written for Batman and JLA (Justice League of America). He also moderated a panel for the reunion of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 cast at the 2008 Comic Con. Last year, he even released a hilarious semi-autobiography titled Zombie Spaceship Wasteland where he talks about growing up a nerd.

Anyway, if you happen to read this Mr. Oswalt, Happy Birthday from everyone here at mental_floss.

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The Funniest Word in the English Language? 'Booty,' According to New Survey
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Some words, regardless of their meaning, are simply more chuckle-worthy than others. To determine which expressions in the English language are truly the most comical, Smithsonian reports that psychologists at the University of Warwick in the UK conducted a survey in which they asked people to rate the “humor value” of a sampling of chosen words. They recently published their findings in the journal Behavior Research Methods.

The researchers selected nearly 5000 words, and then used Amazon’s online crowdsourcing tool Mechanical Turk to ask more than 800 individuals to rank the humor value of 211 randomly chosen words from the list, on a scale from 1 (humorless) to 5 (humorous). Likely not surprising to anyone with younger siblings, the funniest word ended up being “booty,” with an average ranking of 4.32. In descending order, the remaining top 12 words—which all received a score of 3.9 or higher—were “tit,” “booby,” “hooter,” “nitwit,” “twit,” “waddle,” “tinkle,” “bebop,” “egghead,” “ass,” and “twerp.”

Why these words are so funny remains fuzzy. But when they analyzed their findings according to age and gender, the researchers did find that sexually suggestive words like “orgy” and “bondage” tended to tickle the funny bones of men, as did the words “birthmark,” “brand,” “chauffeur,” “doze,” “buzzard,” “czar,” “weld,” “prod,” “corn,” and “raccoon.”

Meanwhile, women tended to laugh at the words “giggle,” “beast,” “circus,” “grand,” “juju,” “humbug,” “slicker,” “sweat,” “ennui,” “holder,” “momma,” and “sod.” As for people under the age of 32, they were amused by “goatee,” “joint,” and “gangster,” while older participants liked “squint,” “jingle,” “burlesque,” and “pong.” Across the board, all parties were least amused by words like “rape,” “torture,” and “torment.”

Although humor is complex and dependent on elements like syntax and delivery, the study's researchers say that breaking comedy down to single-word units could demystify its essence.

“The research initially came about as a result of our curiosity,” said Tomas Engelthaler, the study’s lead author, in a press release. “We were wondering if certain words are perceived as funnier, even when read on their own. It turns out that indeed is the case. Humor is an everyday aspects of our lives and we hope this publicly available dataset allows future researchers to better understand its foundations.”

[h/t Smithsonian]

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Welcome to the Dull Men’s Club, a Group Dedicated to the Blander Things in Life
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Do you enjoy such riveting activities as sitting on porches, sorting loose change, and watching paint dry? If so, you may qualify to join the Dull Men’s Club. Co-founded by Grover Click, the Dull Men’s Club celebrates the aspects of life some may call boring. The group comprises thousands of members with colorful hobbies like collecting milk bottles, appreciating roundabouts, and tracking down water pumps. There are even some women in the group, one of whom spends her free time following brown street signs.

Great Big Story recently spoke with some of the club's most ordinary members. After watching the video below, you can read about more spectacularly dull hobbies—like drain spotting, traffic cone collecting, and mailbox photography—here.

[h/t Great Big Story]

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