Bathroom humor is an unfortunate staple of the entertainment industry, but it's not always intentional. Tongues wagged all over America when rock singer Sheryl Crow announced her latest planet-saving ideas on the Internet.
As she cruised the country in a biodiesel-fueled bus to fight against global warming, the singer said some of her ideas "are in the earliest stages of development" -- and then proclaimed one of them without having thought it through. "I propose a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting ... one square per restroom visit."
Her critics are still enjoying the field day. And entertainers wonder why no one wants them setting government policy.
But most of the time, bathroom humor is intentional, and designed to go beyond the comfort zone. It's not enough to be snarky, or even crass. Now it must be downright revolting to be considered "funny."
The latest offender is ABC's "According to Jim" with Jim Belushi, a show that was originally marketed to viewers as a family sitcom with the lovable ogre dad, the beautiful mom and three cute little smart-alecks. Now, ABC calls it an "earthy family comedy." Translation: Get ready for a lot of references to toilet contents.
The premise of the April 18 episode, titled "What Lies Beneath," is that Jim lost his wedding ring, and unbeknownst to him, it was found in the front yard (with a metal detector) and brought to his wife, Cheryl. He's been wearing a counterfeit ring to cover up his mistake. Cheryl wants him to admit that he lost it. So far, that's a classic sitcom plot that wouldn't be out of place in the 1930s, or the 1950s, or the 1990s.
But this is 2007. Cheryl bakes cupcakes and tells her family that the only way each person in the house gets to have a cupcake is by publicly admitting to a lie. Jim won't confess about the lost ring. Cheryl then puts the lost ring on top of his "special cupcake." He glares at it, but instead of confessing his deception, Jim eats the entire cupcake, ring and all.
That's when the sitcom plot rockets into the sleazy 21st century, setting the bathroom plot into motion, since Cheryl wants to get the "evidence" of Jim's lost ring back ... in the bathroom. But not before her sister unloads an "earthy" story about how "last week, I was up on the roof throwing water balloons I filled with my own urine." What's with this fictional family? How gross can it get?