If you’re making everyone happy in comedy, you’re not doing comedy right.
Ah, Halloween. That time of year when you can eat an entire bag of candy without your roommate asking if everything’s okay. Good thing, too– with the amount of pressure involved in picking a costume, it’s nearly impossible to not look like a pumpkin by the time the 31st rolls around.
And if you’re the “Funny Friend,” the stakes are even higher: Halloween is your night to prove your creativity and ingenuity. Before you start stress-stuffing that jumbo bag of Fun Size Twix/Snickers/M&M’s, here are a few helpful tips for picking out your Halloween costume.
Avoid Low-Hanging Fruit
And by “low-hanging fruit,” I mean Miley Cyrus. Yes, we’ve all seen her dance around with teddy bears and lick household tools, and for some reason, that’s spawned “great” costume ideas in all of us.
News flash: they’re not great ideas.
I promise, no variation of Miley Cyrus will be original this year, so just stay away. Miley’s tongue? They already sell that at Target. A bear with a Miley backpack? That’s what all the bears will be wearing. Billy Ray Cyrus with a noose around his neck and a note taped to his chest apologizing for his daughter’s behavior? We get it – he has an Achy Breaky Heart. If you dress up as Miley, the Cyruses win.
Don’t Beat a Dead Horse
Psy. Psy was last year’s low-hanging fruit, and we don’t need your outdated/borderline offensive costume to remind us of that. I get it. Being outdated is cool and ironic and whatever. But before you start pony-dancing around the whole party, just remember that being disingenuous isn’t the same thing as being clever. I’m not saying you have to dress as someone or something current, but anyone can dress as something irrelevant.
And while you’re at it…
Don’t Dress as a Different Ethnicity
Pun is the Loneliest Number
I love me a good pun. Hell, I even love a bad pun. But I never let my childish sense of humor coax myself into believing that a pun-based costume is a good idea. Scratch that– it probably is a good idea, but how are you gonna to dress up as a “Scissor Salad?” Wear a civic crown and carry around scissors? People will just assume you’re a gardener or that you’ve never actually seen Edward Scissorhands. If your costume is good, it should be clear what you are. Once you have to explain your masterful word play, people will force a laugh and tell you how funny you are.
And that’s not funny.
Two Can Be as Bad as Pun
All it takes is one wandering friend to make your kick-ass duo costume turn into a night of awkward questions:
“Who are you supposed to be?”
“Why did he leave?”
“Why didn’t he just pay for his own costume?”
Spare yourself being tethered to someone for the whole night. And if you can’t avoid the couple’s costume, do NOT let yourself be Watson. Stand up for yourself for once.
Try Not to Try So Hard
At the end of the day, it’s just Halloween. Everyone’s already going as their favorite Breaking Bad character anyways, so you don’t have anyone to impress. Besides, even if you totally nail your costume, the only people who will truly appreciate it will be kids, or drunk, or both.
Dan DeSalva is a writer and comedian living in Chicago. He holds degrees in Film and Creative Writing from Northwestern University and is a graduate of the iO Improv Program. Follow him on Twitter: @DanDeSalva