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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Happy Mad-Libbing, Everyone!

For today’s edition of the Wednesday theme day (which I suppose has now turned into a hodge-podge section of childhood memories), I thought that I would share one of my all-time favourite memories growing up as a child.  And, I think that this entry could also be one that all of you reading this blog at home can take part in as well!

I’ll get to the audience participation a little bit later in this blog entry.

For now, I will tell you a little bit of a story.

Growing up, I was always fascinated with words and language and books and all the other things associated with reading and writing.  I would go to the public library every week and check out at least a dozen books to read and study, and I was constantly writing and drawing pictures on scraps of lined paper.

(No wonder I decided to pursue a long-standing interest in writing!)

It became only natural that some of my favourite activities to take part in as a child were word-based.  I played a lot of Scrabble and Boggle.  I would watch Wheel of Fortune and often solve the puzzles faster than some of the contestants at the time.  I loved language arts class and creative writing in school, and I always did the Word Jumbles and Word Searches that were inside each comic section of the newspaper.  I even attempted a couple of New York Times Crossword Puzzles, but not even I’m skilled enough to complete one of those...yet.

But would you like to know what one of my all-time favourite activities to do was growing up?  Allow me to show you.

Ever hear of something called a Mad Lib?  It’s a word game that is guaranteed to bring dozens of laughs to a party or social gathering.  I know it certainly brought a lot of laughs to my fourth grade classroom, which was one of my earliest experiences with Mad Libs.

It’s hard to believe that Mad Libs have been around for well over five decades now.  The idea of a Mad Lib was first invented in 1953 by Leonard Stern (1923-2011) and Roger Price (1918-1990), and the first Mad Libs book was published in 1958.  Since then, there have been no less than 40 different Mad Libs books published in a variety of subjects from Indiana Jones and Star Wars to Scooby-Doo and Fear Factor!

So, what is a Mad Lib?

Well, basically, it’s a story with a twist.  The twist is that some of the words in the story have been removed, and it is your job to try and guess what the right words are. 

There’s just one problem.  The people who are guessing the words don’t know what the story is.  Nor do they know exactly where in the story the words will be placed.

This can lead to a story that absolutely makes no sense, and depending on the words used, the reactions can range from mild amusement to hysterical laughter.

So, how do people fill in the words?  It’s quite simple.

Underneath each blank, there will be a description of the word that one is supposed to fill in.  Let’s look at a sentence for an example...

“The <ADJECTIVE> brown <ANIMAL> <VERB ENDING IN –S> over the lazy <ANIMAL>.

Now, the actual phrase, of course is, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”  It also happens to be a sentence that teachers use to teach cursive writing, as each letter of the alphabet appears at least once. 

But for this exercise, we’ll be using our own words.

So, you can see that we will need an adjective, a verb ending in s, and two animals.  Well, let’s just randomly choose dead, somersaults, and dolphin and tadpole.  Looking at the new sentence, it now reads...

“The dead brown dolphin somersaults over the lazy tadpole.”

You see what I mean?  Okay, so maybe it isn’t the funniest example, but depending on how tame or raunchy you get with your word selection, Mad Libs have the power to make you gasp for breath with each laugh.

Here are some of the more common blanks that someone will come across in a typical Mad Lib.

NOUN:  A person, place, or thing (ex. Mailman, kitchen, parasol).  For plural nouns, add an “S” to it, unless it is a word like octopi, or something similar

VERB:  An action word (ex. Cooking, skiing, face-planting)

ADJECTIVE:  A word used to describe something (ex. Ugly, yellow, fragrant)

ADVERB: Modifier for a verb or verb phrase (ex. Often, suddenly, rapidly)

NUMBER:  A number (ex. 5, 18, 2012, 3.14159265...)

There will often be some more specific blanks that require a more detailed answer such as Geographical Location, Part of the Body, Famous Person, or Colour, in which case, you would just answer as normal.

So, just for the fun of it, I created my own Mad Lib using some random words that popped into my head.  I found a web-site where you can create your own Mad Libs, and I decided to do one myself.  If you’d like to try it out yourself, just click HERE.  Here are my results.


1.      Potato Masher - George Michael
2. Alone - Thigh
3. I Wanna Swim With Somebody (Who Bites Me) - Whitney Houston
4. C'est la Vie - Betty White
5. Slap You Down - Gregory Abbott
6. La Bamba - Los Bumblebees
7. Livin' On A Big Mac - Bon Jovi
8. Here I Go Again - Whitecheetah
9. McDonald's Is A Place On Earth - Belinda Carlisle
10. ( I've Had ) The Time Of My Life - Bill Medley & Joy Behar
11. Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now - Shamwow
12. I Think We're Dead Now - Tiffany
13. With Or Without Key Lime Pie - U2
14. At This Moment - Billy Vera and the Breast Implants
15. Keep Your Marshmallows To Yourself - Georgia Trombones
16. Gall Bladder And Soul - T'Pau
17. Lick Your Heart - Madonna
18. Didn't We Almost Twist It All - Whitney Houston
19. I Still Haven't Burned What I'm Looking For - U2
20. Looking For A Sexy Hoarder - Jody Watley
21. Don't Dream It's Over - Unconscious House
22. Is This Spatula - Whitecheetah
23. Digest Your Love - Debbie Gibson
24. Shakedown - Mitt Romney
25. Fabulous - Duran Duran

Not bad, huh?

Okay, now it’s your turn.  I created another Mad Lib...this time using a passage from a previous blog that I have done.  It’s up to you to use the template to fill it in yourselves!  Now, this is only optional, of course, but if you want to, you can share your finished passages here, so we can laugh at them together!  How about it?

Just click HERE for all the fun!  Happy Mad Libbing!

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