Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dean humor vs. Sam humor

Last week, I talked about the differences between the Winchester brothers with regard to their physical attributes and personalities, and how female fans reacted to those differences. This week, I'd like to delve into their different senses of humor.

It's no secret that Dean is snarky and has the best lines in the series. Here’s where I see another parallel with Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Even though I was an Angel fan, I have to admit Spike had the best lines. Same with Dean. His quips reveal a lot about his character. He often uses jokes to keep distance between himself and others, as when Sam tries to apologize for his earlier comments about their parents in the Pilot and Dean holds up his hand and says, “No chick flick moments.” Cassie calls him on this defense mechanism in “Route 666” (1-13) by pointing out that every time Dean gets close to emotional vulnerability, he backs off, makes a joke. He even uses this distancing mechanism with the people with whom they come into contact on their jobs, sometimes with comedic effect. In “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things” (2-4), when he and Sam return to Neil’s house, he says, “Neil. It’s your grief counselors. We’ve come to hug.”

The Pilot is filled with lots of wonderful Dean snark, some of which reveals his affection for pop culture, particularly the horror genre, that will be revealed in many episodes throughout the series. For instance, when he and Sam pass the real FBI guys on the bridge, Dean, in a shout-out to the X-Files, says, “Agent Mulder, Agent Scully.” He references Ghost in “In My Time of Dying” (2-1) when his out-of-body self knocks over a glass of water and he says, “Dude, I full-on Swayzed that mother.” In “Folsom Prison Blues” (2-19), Dean even jokes while getting his police mugshot taken, even though deliberately getting thrown into jail to work a haunting inside the jail is the riskiest thing they’ve done so far considering they’re wanted by the feds. He looks at the man taking the mugshot and says, “I call this one blue steel,” and makes the famous face from Zoolander.

Another slice of personality that has become synonymous with Dean is his frequent use of the word “dude.” Since I too tend to use the word “dude” a lot, this makes me smile every time. A sampling:

Sam: “Dad let you go on a hunting trip by yourself.”
Dean: “I’m 26, dude.” (Pilot)

Dean: “Dude, I earned that money.”
Sam: "You won it in a poker game.” (“Bloody Mary”, 1-5)

Dean: “Dude, sorority girls. Think we’ll see a naked pillow fight?” (“Hook Man”, 1-7)

Dean: “Dude, you’re fugly.” (“Scarecrow”, 1-11)

Sam: (gesturing to pumpkin on porch) "Hey, check that out."
Dean: "Yeah? It's close to Halloween."
Sam: "You remember Cinderella? The pumpkin that turns into a coach and the mice that become horses?"
Dean: "Dude! Could you be more gay? Don't answer that."
("Bedtime Stories", 3-5)

Sam’s sense of humor is a bit more understated, so when he does say something funny, it’s notable. Such an exchange in “Croatoan” (2-9) not only reveals Sam’s sense of humor but also the contrast between him and Dean in regards to school. Sam was always a straight-A student despite their crazy childhood and got a full ride to Stanford, while we get the impression that Dean barely skated by in school. When Sam notices the word “Croatoan” carved into a utility pole in River Grove, Oregon, he points it out to Dean.

Dean: “Croatoan?”
Sam: “Yeah. Roanoke. Lost Colony. Ring a bell? Dean, did you pay any attention to history class?”
Dean: “Yeah. Shot heard round the world, how bills become laws.”
Sam: “That’s not school. That’s Schoolhouse Rock.”

In “Provenance” (1-19), Sam uses a little humor with Sarah as he and Dean are digging up a grave so they can salt and burn the bones.

Sarah: “You guys are uncomfortably comfortable with this.”
Sam: “It’s not exactly the first grave we’ve dug. Still think I’m a catch?”

Humor and practical jokes between the brothers play a big part in “Hell House” (1-17). I still chuckle thinking about Sam sitting at the restaurant squirming because Dean put the itching powder in his underwear. Sam gets in another understated but funny dig at Dean in this exchange:

Dean: “People believe in Santa Claus. How come I’m not getting hooked up every Christmas?”
Sam: “Because you’re a bad person.”

What are your favorite parts of Sam and Dean humor?

And because I'm a big fan of YouTube and fan vids, here are a couple for your viewing pleasure. I can't embed the videos because embedding is turned off on these, but just click on the links below.

Funny Sam and Dean moments

Dean does "Eye of the Tiger"


Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I was going to say the humor is what elevates this show above anything else, then I decided no, it's not just the humor, it's the combination of humor and deep emotion and so on. Then I was going to say the humor was my favorite part, but then I thought about the sex scenes. :)

My all-time favorite exchange is from "Playthings" (2-11):

Drunk!Sam: You're bossy.
Dean: What?
Drunk!Sam: You're bossy! And short. *snickers*
Dean: Are you drunk?
Sam: Yeah? So? Stupid.

Also in that episode is another of my favorite lines. When they go up to talk to Rose, and Sam says she's had a stroke, and Dean says she could be faking, and Sam says, "What, are you gonna poke with a stick?" and Dean makes an "Okay, why not?" face and Sam grabs him and says "Dude! You're not gonna poke her with a stick!"

Can't wait to hear some other favorites. :) Awesome topic, Trish!

Trish Milburn said...

There are tons of these great exchanges. Even in the darkest episode, there seems to be something that makes me at least chuckle if not snort out loud.

Yeah, the stick-poking one is pretty good. It's in the first YouTube link in my post.

I also love all Dean's quotes about pie. "Dude, where's the pie!?"

Anonymous said...

Here's my fave:

Sam: Dean, there's ten times as much lore about angels as there is about anything else we've ever hunted.
Dean: You know what, there's a ton of lore on unicorns too. In fact, I hear that they ride on silver moonbeams, and that they shoot rainbows out of their ass!
Sam: Wait, there's no such thing as unicorns?

And I want to use this one in my new book:
Dean: What's a P.A.?
Sam: I think it's kinda like a slave.

Anonymous said...

>>Dean: What's a P.A.?
Sam: I think it's kinda like a slave.

LOL! And while it doesn't necessarily play into the characterization of the brothers, I love the "in" humor of the show. There was lots of that in the episode where they pretended to be PAs, starting with Sam being uncomfortable on the tour when Stars' Hollow was referenced.

I think the humor as a defense mechanism makes more sense for Dean's character because, in a lot of ways, he's repressing more. Sam had a few years to get some distance from the Winchesters and adjust emotionally, even get into a semi-serious relationship. But kudos to Jared because it would be easy for Jensen to steal the scenes with his funny lines (it's not easy to be the straight man) and Jared totally holds his own. (And I'm suddenly inappropriately reminded of a line from Angel when Gunn tells Faith he holds his own and she says, "That's a shame.")

ANYWAY, the other smart way the writers have used Dean's normal humor is as a contrast for his dark revelations this season. And come to think of it, in seasons prior. I can't be the only one who cried after his dad died and Dean beat the hell out of the Impala? I think a lot of his moments of emotional punch carry even MORE punch because he normally tries not to express anything that deep.

So kudos to the writers for keeping a nice balance between the brothers and knowing how to best disturb that balance when necessary. However, I'm hoping we do get some funny moments in the second half of the season to match some of the hilarity earlier. I know it will be difficult given the very dark subject matter, but, again, I think that contrast--moments of light and hope and moments of laughter--are necessary for making everything else be brilliant drama rather than melodrama (which you risk if the character starts rehashing his guilty angst every ep.)

I woke up this morning thinking it was Thursday and have since become bummed to realize I gotta wait another day for the next episode!


Trish Milburn said...

Terri, the unicorn exchange was pretty funny. I think that's why the humor on this show works so well -- because of who is playing the characters and how they play off each other. It just works really well.

Trish Milburn said...

Tanya, that scene where Dean is beating the hell out of the Impala was one of the most raw emotional moments in the series' entire run so far, I think. Because we all know how much that car means to Dean.

Bummer on thinking it was Thursday. But at least there's LOST tonight.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Yes, Terri, those are two of my favorites, too!

I agree, Tanya, especially with the wanting more humor now like we had earlier. They cycle their writers so I'm tempted to waste a lot of time looking up who wrote what in the past and what they're going to be doing in the future. :)

An adjunct element is the humor in secondary characters. Gordon was such a DICK but he had his moments. When Kubrick told Gordon he was on a mission from God to find Sam, and Gordon was like, "Oooohhh-kay." And when he had Dean tied up and Dean called him a son of a bitch and he punched him and said "that's my momma you're talkin' about," he had an element of fond camaraderie in the way he said it, totally at odds with his mission to kill Dean's brother.

The little girl Lilith at the end of season 3 wasn't funny, per se, but there was some dark humor in the juxtaposition between her threats to her father switching to "It's okay, silly. Let's go play!" And, of course, Ed and Harry from "Hell House" and "Ghostfacers":

"Sweet Lord"
"Of the Rings!"


"Listen here, chisel chest."

*sigh* I could go on and on!

Trish Milburn said...

I was thinking that I really enjoy the humor that includes Bobby too. I think I'll blog about Bobby at some point. Here's a couple I like:

Sam: Well, we're not dealing with the anti-Claus.
Dean: What'd Bobby say?
Sam: Uh, that we're morons.
(A Very Supernatural Christmas)

Dean: You have a ghost-proof panic room?
Bobby: I had a weekend off.
(Are You There God? It's Me, Dean Winchester.)

Trish Milburn said...

Tanya, as far as humor in upcoming episodes, I think this week's has a lot of potential. I mean, seriously, Dean as gym teacher. :)

Maureen Child said...

Oh yeah, we need a blog on Bobby. He's just too good.....

but for humor, my favorite is still Dean on the Magic Fingers bed and Sam saying

"Dude, you're like the lab rat who keeps pushing the pleasure button instead of the food button until he DIES."

The humor is a BIG part of why I love this show so much. Because it's 'inside' jokes all the time. The brothers are so tight and so connected, their humor springs from that connection. They know each other so well that with one line, they can slap the other one upside the head.

There's a real talent in creating characters so real that you want to hang out with them.....

Trish Milburn said...

Maureen, the magic fingers bed is hilarious.

I like the inside jokes that have to do with the guys using aliases of rock stars, like Agents Ulrich and Hedfield. :)

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Yes and yes and yes and yes! LOL

And speaking of Bobby, that's another great exchange:

Sam: Where's Bobby?

Dean: Uh, the Dominican. He said we break anything, we buy it.

Sam: Is he working a job?

Dean: God, I hope so. Otherwise he's at Hedonism in a banana hammock and a trucker cap.

Jody W. and Meankitty said...

So is most of Sam's humor on the show at Dean's expense, so to speak? A lot of these quotes are.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I think a lot if it is, now that you point it out, Jody. Which is a reflection on their roles. Sam's a little brother so he makes jokes about his big brother ("You're confusing porn and reality again.") but he's got a lot of compassion and empathy toward other people that Dean doesn't feel as strongly or directly, so he doesn't make jokes at others' expense like Dean does.

Norah Wilson said...

Ah, the humor! Huge part of the show's appeal. You guys have showcased some of the funniest stuff. Personally, I love the aliases they use. It's more subtle, but I love it. If I dont' know the aliases, I usually go look them up. ,-) Trish mentioned one, but others come to mind: Bachman and Turner (Bachman Turner Overdrive), Geddy and Lee (Rush), Gibbons and Beard (ZZ Top), Plant and Page (Led Zep). And in the episode "Heart", the werewolf one, they use Dante and Landis, who both directed great werewolf movies in the same year (1981 - The Howling and an American Werewolf in London).

BTW, I don't get to see Supernatural until Friday here in Canada, and if my Friday night canasta game goes too long and I miss it, I have to catch it on the Internet, so I can't read your post-epiosode posts until the weekend. Sucks!

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Hey, Norah!

No worries about posting late. It just keeps the discussion going, and no one minds that! :)

I admit, as tickled as I am when I recognize one of the fake names they give, I rarely do because I'm a music idiot. :)

Unknown said...

Sam: Alright, so I think I got something.
Dean: Oh yeah, me too. I think we need to take a little shore leave, just a little, what do you think, huh? I'm so in the door with this one.
Sam: So what are we today, Dean? Are we rock stars, Army Rangers?
Dean: We're L.A. TV scouts looking for people with special skills. I mean, hey, it's not that far off, huh?

thats one of my favorites!!! =P

Unknown said...

Kate(vampire): Car trouble? Let me give you a lift. Take you back to my place.
Dean: Ah, I'll pass. I usually draw the line at necrophilia.

Dean: I don't normally get this friendly until the second date...

Kate(vampire): You know, we could have some fun. I always like to make new friends.

Dean: Sorry, don't really stay with a chick that long, definitely not eternity.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

AHAHAHA, Camila! Very good ones, and you make me want to go watch the show!