Halloween Humor — Get Dressed To Thrill!

Here’s a wonderful and timely article by guest author Avish Parashar.

Haloween Humor — Get Dressed To Thrill!  by Avish Parashar.

Halloween is upon us! As an adult, I am assuming you are not going trick or treating (although I do think we need a holiday where adults can walk door to door and get free stuff — not candy, but something fun for adults like DVDs or mutual funds or something). However, you may find yourself invited to a Halloween costume party. If you plan to attend one you will need a costume. Picking one can be a high stress activity, but have no fear! It’s really quite simple. You have three basic costume options when it comes to dressing up for Halloween: Funny, Serious, or Sexy. I outline the main points of each below so you can decide what approach you want to take this year.

Funny Costumes — Make people laugh and you can wear pretty much anything.  One year I tied a big red bow around my body and attached a gift card that said, “To: Women. From: God.” (Not my original idea, but as Einstein said, “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”)  It only took a quick run to the fabric store, $3 for the ribbon, and two minutes to tie it on and apply the card. I did feel a little guilty when my minimal effort/minimal cost outfit won me second place and my friend, who takes this stuff seriously, won nothing. He went all out and donned an elaborate pirate costume complete with hat, jewelry, and makeup. I won second place and he won nothing. I drove him home that night, and the tension in the car was palpable. It was like “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” minus the sisters, wheelchair, and horrible physical abuse. We still can’t talk about Halloween without him mentioning what he considers to be “a great injustice.” Some wounds never heal.

If you want to go funny, don’t buy an off-the-shelf outfit. Most “funny” outfits at costume stores aren’t all that funny. The funniest things about them are the poses and sincere expressions on the faces of the models on the costume bags. That makes me laugh. And God forbid you show up in the same “funny” costume as some one else. If you think showing up in the same dress at a party as someone else is embarrassing, imagine showing up and being just one of two giant bananas.

Two things to remember if you go with the funny costume: 1) Maximum ROI (Return on Investment) is key — rely on your humor, not on your elaborate costume.  2) The humor should be easy to get. I went to a party a few years ago where someone tried real hard to do the funny costume. She dressed up as a chicken and walked around carrying a butterfly net with a picture of Tori Spelling caught in it. Do you want to guess what she was dressed up as? Any guesses? Anyone? “Chicken Cacciatore” (Chicken-Catch-a-Tori”) Get it? No? Neither did anyone else. You can not make this stuff up people. This outfit violated both rules. First, acquiring and donning a chicken suit is not a high ROI activity. Second, nobody at the party got what she was without her explaining it.

Humor Lesson: If you have to explain your joke in detail, to everyone, it’s not funny. It’s like a Zen Koan: If a person tells a joke at a party and nobody laughs, was it really a joke? The answer is no. No it was not.

Business Lesson (especially small business): It’s all about ROI. Low investment, high return. Leave the chicken suit at home. Incidentally, my pirate friend came back strong the following year and won second place by dressing up as the spitting image of Flava Flav.

Serious Costumes — Dressing up can create quite an internal struggle. It is the only decision you make all year that allows people to judge your attractiveness, wit, financial status, and creativity all with one look. It’s the “online dating” of parties — you may have a lot more going on, but people are really only paying attention to the picture. You have to find just the right balance; you want a costume that shows you put a little thought into it, but not too much thought because if it’s stupid, you don’t want people to pity the amount of effort you put in (think Chicken Cacciatore). Going with a straight costume is the easiest and safest course of action. You can just walk into a store, plop down a few bucks, and Presto! You have just fulfilled your dressing up obligation. Years ago, I walked into a store, bought a cowboy hat and poncho, and boom — instant costume! I may not have been the only cowboy there, but at least I had a costume that didn’t take too much effort.

On a side note, I was probably the only person in the city who was both a Cowboy and an Indian! Get it? No? (You may not realize that I am of Indian background. I know, with a name like “Avish,” you probably assumed I was Irish) Well nobody else would have either, which is why I didn’t try to tell people that I was a “Cowboy and Indian.” That would violate my “explaining the joke” humor rule above.

For serious costumes, I don’t begrudge people spending time or money. That just shows that you are really getting into the spirit of things. Just don’t be annoyed if you get beat out for best costume by someone who spent five minutes and $3 on their costume.

Sexy Costumes — Go to enough costume parties and you start to wonder if the original pagan meaning of Halloween is “night for repressed women to overcome their inner inhibitions.” Women who feel uncomfortable undressing for the shower will walk around in public like Victoria’s Secret runway models – with “kitten ears” thrown on to make it an actual costume, of course. It’s like society issues a get-out-of-jail-free card once a year and boy do people take advantage of it.

In the party above where I won second place as “God’s Gift to Women,” and the following year my friend won second place as “Flava Flav,” would you like to know who won first place? Same woman both years. Year one, she was a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader — short shorts and all. Year two she went as a Vegas showgirl. Show some skin, win a prize! Sexy beats funny every time.

Speaking of Las Vegas, I never knew how attractive cats, Little Bo Peep, and Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz could be until I spent Halloween in Las Vegas. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I just think this is an interesting sociological phenomenon. We need more holidays where we, everyone, all of us, can act out our repressed desires. I would walk around wearing a Fedora and leather jacket and have a bull-whip attached to my hip.

I recently re-watched “Batman Begins.” At the end, Batman’s (Bruce Wayne’s) girlfriend tells him that Batman is who he really is, and that Bruce Wayne is really the mask. Kind of makes you wonder on Halloween when people let their inner desires out, whether they are putting on a costume or just letting themselves “be real” for one day out of the year and putting on a mask the other 364… If the latter, then maybe they should consider flipping things around — it can be much more rewarding and satisfying.

Well that was kind of heavy…But it does go to show that you can get life lessons from anywhere, even from a movie about a man dressed up as a flying rodent.

A Word to People Who ‘Don’t Want to Get Dressed Up’

There are always a few people who go to a Halloween party and don’t dress up.  “Do I have to?” they whine. Yes! It is Halloween! It is a Costume party! Not dressing up for a costume party is like showing up to a food drive without a can of food. Don’t be that guy. Here’s a thought for this year: if you get invited to a costume party, dress up or stay home.

Sorry, but it had to be said.

Besides, it takes far more effort and is far more embarrassing to complain about dressing up than it is to throw on a simple costume. No one expects you to spend a ton of money or come in a full body outfit. If you’re really confused, go to a Halloween store or even your local discount store. Buy a pair of horns and a pitchfork (should be less than $10 total). Go home, wear some decent party clothes, put on the horns, and carry the pitchfork around. Boom!  Instant costume. Now stop whining and go have fun at your Halloween party you sexy devil 🙂

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