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Split your sides? 笑破肚皮

中国日报网 2023-12-08 13:43


Reader question:

Please explain “split your sides”, as in: Jokes that are guaranteed to split your sides.

My comments:

Good jokes, in other words.

Very good jokes.

Jokes that are so hilarious that they will make us laugh hard and uncontrollably for a long time – till our stomach aches, as we say in Chinese.

Our stomach hurts because we feel like our sides have split due to all that uproarious laughter.

Here, “sides” refer to the two sides of our body or torso, the left side and the right side. When we laugh very hard, we sometimes feel like our torso is split in two.

This is an exaggeration, of course, but you get the idea.

Here’s an explanation as to the phrase’s origin from The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer:

This hyperbole dates from the seventeenth century. Thomas Brown used it in Saints in Uproar (1687): “You’d break a man’s sides with laughing.” The word “split” came into use somewhat later. Dickens used it in The Old Curiosity Shop (1840), “He bade fair to split his sides with laughing,” and Harriet Beecher Stowe in Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), “I laughed fit to split.”

All clear?

All right. And here are media examples of side-spliting in various forms:

1. Northport’s John W. Engeman Theater yet again has another hit on their hands with their recent offering, a brilliant incarnation of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Yes, this hilarious Tony winning David Yazbek/Jeffrey Lane musical is based on the hit Steve Martin/Michael Caine blockbuster movie. The comedic timing, witty quips, and a side-spliting, unsuspecting story truly makes this a laugh-out-loud event.

Running through March 5th at the exquisite Long Island venue, the extraordinary cast is excellently directed by Engeman vet Drew Humphrey.

The story centers on two con-men challenging each other to scam an American heiress out of $50,000. First you will notice they have different points of view about their swindling ways. Lawrence Jameson, superbly portrayed by James D. Sasser is into ripping off corrupt, well-to-do people out of a lot of money so he can finance his lavish lifestyle. At the same time, his big-headed eventual frenemy, Freddy Benson, brilliantly portrayed by Danny Gardner, schemes people simply for a meal. In the end, these two perspectives complement each other and make for a very entertaining story.

Mr. Sasser and Mr. Gardner are a brilliant team. Their wisecracks and sassy dialog leaves the audience in absolute stitches.

And so, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the John W. Engeman Theater is no doubt a must see this Winter season. A superb cast, the gorgeous Engeman theater, and a hilarious story make for a fun night of theater.

- Review: DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS at John W. Engeman Theater, EngagementTheater.com, January 28, 2023.

2. While the political world was buzzing with anticipation as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis geared up for his highly anticipated 2024 campaign announcement on Twitter Spaces, Donald Trump attempted to seize the spotlight, resorting to a barrage of insult-packed rants and diatribes to mock the Florida governor on Truth Social.

What Happened: Amid the sea of posts that poked fun at DeSantis, one particular video stood out, causing a wave of laughter and disbelief. This video took aim at the chaotic Twitter Spaces session with Elon Musk where DeSantis announced his 2024 presidential bid - a session that was marked by technical glitches.

On Truth Social, Trump simulated the Twitter Spaces interface and presented a hilarious portrayal of the chaos that followed during DeSantis’ session.

But here’s where things took an unexpected turn – instead of sticking solely to DeSantis and Musk, the video mockingly featured a motley crew of unexpected speakers, such as billionaire investor George Soros, Chairperson of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and even a surprise appearance by none other than Adolf Hitler. Yes, you read that right - the dictator himself managed to sneak into the simulated virtual room. If that too wasn’t enough, the FBI made a cameo as well!

What followed was a hilarious banter, with each of the fictional speakers engaging in funny one-upmanship. Their attempts to outdo one another with witty one-liners and absurd antics had everyone in stitches.

The result was a side-splitting showdown that left no shortage of laughter and bewildered amusement in its wake.

In the wacky world of make-believe, Soros could be heard asking, “Is my microphone working correctly.” Just as Musk tries to interject, saying, “George, can you just wait while we…,” he is abruptly cut off by Soros.

Meanwhile, the fictional DeSantis, determined to make his grand announcement, pleads, “Can I please make my big announcement now.” But before he could finish, another voice interrupts, saying, “Can somebody just mute George.”

The conversation takes a hilarious turn when, out of the blue, the imaginary FBI chimes in with a question, asking, “Ok, so how are we gonna take out Trump, you guys.” Before anybody could reply, Musk exclaims, “Ah, guys from the FBI, this is not a private call, this is a public Twitter Space, everyone can listen in.” In a flash, the fictional FBI signs off the session and flees the scene.

- Trump’s Truth Social Skit Roasting DeSantis’ Twitter Spaces Chaos Leaves Internet In Splits, Benzinga.com, May 25, 2023.

3. When I first heard about this lady who, in her early twenties had followed her heart, flown across 5000 miles with bag and baggage, from her home in London to her roots in India, to settle down with the man she had given her heart to, being the first among the Assamese settled in the United Kingdom to make a ‘reverse commute’, I was considerably intrigued and I was keen to know more about Loya Agarwal.

As I am currently in Lancaster, England, visiting my son, I got in touch through WhatsApp and fixed an appropriate time to speak to her over a WhatsApp call.

A few minutes into the conversation which started off on a brilliant note, I realised that this diligent daughter of the lady who had soared across Assam’s sky as the First Lady Pilot of the state, nurtured in her heart, passion, and purpose that even the sky could not limit.

Switching over to a video call that spanned well over an hour, we talked at length about her life in London, her move to India, the discovery of her true calling, and her journey thereafter.

Meet LOYA AGARWALA, Student Counsellor and Personality Development Consultant with almost two decades of experience, Founder and Managing Partner of UCan Centre, and author of a highly acclaimed paperback published by the reputed national publisher Westland Ltd.

Loya was born in London to a pair of illustrious parents; her father Kamal Hazarika, besides being a noted lyricist, composer, and singer had worked in the Indian Embassy in London until his retirement while her mother Dhira Chaliha Hazarika, had made history as the first lady pilot of Assam.

I set the ball rolling by asking, “Tell me Loya, how did your parents come to live in London?”

“Well… having set sail from India for pursuing higher studies in Welfare Management, my father had disembarked at the Tilbury Docks, London in 1957, with the vision of returning to the lap of lush green Assam and dedicating his services in Assam’s tea industry. But Destiny certainly had other plans for him.

My mother moved to London as his bride in 1963 and they ended up making London their “home” She smiled. Speaking about her father Mr. Kamal Hazarika, Loya said that he had a strong inclination towards music right from his boyhood, and by the 1940s, he was an established A’ Class Artiste for All India Radio in Calcutta.


She went on to share an interesting anecdote. “We had guests over and I was serving Maas’or Petu, the Assamese delicacy made by frying petu that is fish gut. But hear me out… Instead of Petu, I said Pelu which means in Assamese, ‘worms’. Obviously, it made the guests cringe momentarily, but then they literally split their sides laughing. You can imagine my embarrassment, which of course, I covered up by laughing too.”

Her narration was so funny, that I laughed out loud, but deep down I couldn’t help thinking how commendably sporting she was.

- From London to India: The Journey of Loya Agarwala, by Monideepa Das, EastIndiaStory.com, August 5, 2023.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣  编辑:丹妮)


Off message? 偏离政治立场


Popular imagination? 大众想象


Freewheeling spirit? 无拘无束


Hot mess? 一团糟


Effect change? 引起变化


Stretched too thin? 过度分散

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