My wife and I finished watching the entirety of the X-Files. One episode featured shirtless Mitch Pileggi, who was surprisingly buff underneath the doofy balding boss exterior. His character, Skinner, was that fifties-nerd-looking-character, while sans shirt, who became a Vin Diesel type action hero, with plenty of chest hair. Bear in mind that the shaven male chest is a relatively new idea of sexy. The chesty scruff look ruled supreme and even made it into the nineties. Commander Riker sported the enchanted forest look. Chest hair is the symbol of a manly man: The man that stands in front of a tsunami and says, “Take your best shot.” (The chest hair actually softens the blow.)
While most people don’t think of Mitch Pileggi as a sex symbol and a man’s man, my wife and I certainly do. We know he’s a man of action. That’s why, throughout the series, we kept saying, “WWMPD?” What Would Mitch Pileggi Do? He is a tough but caring man, combining the might of Chuck Norris combined with the fatherly wisdom of Morgan Freeman. He’d kill a man with his thumbs and cry a single tear. He had to do it, but it will be his burden to carry. He’ll carry it with dignity.
If you think we are weird now, look at us while we watch television (expect don’t because that would be creepy). For Mulder, we imagined that he spent the entire series looking for the ultimate stick ball field. Imagine Felicia and I in childlike New York accents saying, “Remember me? It’s Old Muldey! We used to play stick ball together!” My personal favorite is when Mulder was running around on the docks and my wife said, “You can’t play stick ball there! The ball will go in the water!”
The joke is never as funny explaining it the second time around. While I giggle to myself writing the Old Muldey dialogue, you are probably thinking of ways to distract me so you can call mental health. You wouldn’t be the first. My wife has many moments like these. When I find something funny, even if I’m the only one, I can’t stop laughing at it. For example, I have an IMDB profile. Most people that have pursued film at one point or another will have one. My actor friends use it for pictures and resumes. As a writer, I never really bothered to upload my picture. After careful thought, I wanted to upload a photoshop my friend did of me:
I couldn’t stop laughing. The thought that a viewer would click on one of the writers of Hamlet: The Vampire Slayer and see that shining face that almost ended my life — twice. The first end would be from lack of air during the barrage of laughter. The second end would be from my wife’s bemusement turned to irritation. My brain went into overdrive. I imagined myself attending film conventions, collecting the morning newspaper, and even out in public sipping coffee and eating a scone all while dressed like Mad Eye. Wouldn’t that be brilliant? People think, this is just a silly picture but in reality, it’s the guy, the Mad Eye Guy!
Losing it with laughter isn’t what Mitch Pileggi would actually do. I imagine him to be a stoic figure with eyes that display slight pity, disdain, and the gentle grace of a father that knows his wayward child will come back one day. Of course, Mitch Pileggi doing any of these things would only make me laugh even more. The heart of comedy, at least for me, involves anyone who takes themselves way too seriously and slightly exaggerating their behavior.
WWMPD is a manifestation of that concept. My wife and I really thought this one out (considering we had nine seasons to think of it). We were going to make a website, featuring pictures of Mitch, write fake bios, and even post scenarios in the raving fan boy voice to apply the WWMPD phrase. We ended up doing none of the above. That’s not to say we wouldn’t do something silly — I am one of the guys that tried to sell his roommate on Ebay:
It’s just that some silliness is way better in the mind than out in public. Humor strikes and leaves the victim with an endorphin high and slight disorientation (sometimes leaving the “why was I laughing at that again?” thought). Maybe a comic moment happens more because the person laughing needs that release or some other physiological response. Either way, the act of inflexible seriousness seems to want that release. It is as though the person, who is too serious all the time, needs to laugh, so people like me laugh for people who can’t (or who have too much of a stick up their ass to) laugh for themselves. But that’s how I’ve always been. I’d rather fart in a prestigious person’s general direction and have a laugh about it than give myself cramps from clenching.