Anthropologists believe the very first joke was invented some two million years ago, when a Homo habilis held an oversized elongated object up to his crotch and said, “Whoa, look at this! Haha. Eh? Honey, are you looking? Hey.” But modern humor as we know it wouldn’t be invented until much later, when Homo sapiens learned to trick each other into drinking piss. All subsequent jokes have simply been variations on this theme.
So when attempting to quantify the Most Important Comedy Scene in Cinema History, we are all but obligated to draw from Hollywood’s deep, fizzy well of nonconsensual piss-chugging scenes. Perhaps we could dip our ladle into one of the specific subgenres — who can forget the iconic scene in Dumb and Dumber in which Jim Carrey tricks a police officer into guzzling his piss, or the scene in Hollywood Knights in which Robert Wuhl also tricks a police officer into guzzling his piss?
But I feel our choice for the top spot must honor a true prodigy, a man considered the Mozart of comically weaponized urine: Fred Savage. When he was just eight years old, he appeared in the 1986 film The Boy Who Could Fly (from Escape from New York writer Nick Castle), a film which did what all great comedy should do: it pissed the envelope. The creators involved asked the question no one else dared: “What if we had a child force another child to gargle his piss? And what if we could make America cheer when it happens, to the point that the Washington Post will call it, ‘soaring … a refreshing catharsis for the whole family‘? Would that not secure a place for us in comedy history, if not a seat at the right hand of Satan’s very throne?”
For reference, here is the resulting scene, presented in the format it most deserves: as a fuzzy ten year-old YouTube upload from someone in a filthy living room shakily recording their television.
First, you should know that Fred Savage does not play the titular Boy Who Can Fly, he’s the eight year-old little brother character in a movie mainly about a budding relationship between a teenage girl and her neighbor with autism who (spoiler) can fly. This was a period in Hollywood in which studios heard the complaints from disabled populations loud and clear, that they were tired of being portrayed as inhuman monsters. Studios nodded and said, “You all want to be portrayed as mysterious, magical beings. Got it.”
Savage, who three years later would star in a film about a boy with a mental disability that makes him magically good at video games, plays Louis. He is introduced wearing a t-shirt that says “KILL ‘EM ALL – LET GOD SORT THEM OUT” and the expression of a man who from birth has seen every mouth as a potential toilet.
He exists in the movie only for the child-on-child piss crime which occurs in the finale, the culmination of a subplot which slowly builds in the background while this suburban neighborhood learns the heartwarming lesson that people with autism are to be celebrated as long as they are also superhuman. Said subplot kicks off when, just minutes into the film, Louis encounters a pack of bullies led by the teenage Sonny, alarmingly leading a gang of much younger children.
Sonny blocks Louis’s path like a mythological troll demanding a toll for passage, stating, “Nobody goes around the block in this neighborhood unless they get our okay, and you don’t got it.” Louis attempts this trek repeatedly, always to the same result, until the film’s final moments. Finally, after everyone in the neighborhood has been inspired to overcome their personal challenges by the titular aerial teenager (the protagonist literally gives a climactic speech that culminates in the demonstrably untrue, “Anything is possible if you really try!”), Louis mounts his Big Wheel one last time and heads into Sonny’s territory.
The gang leaps into action, driven into an inhuman bloodlust at the mere sight of this eight year-old they barely know. They chase their prey down the sidewalk until he is cornered by Sonny himself, who steps out with a baseball bat, ready to bash in this second grader’s skull.
I should interrupt here to explain something to our younger readers. Remember that scene in Stranger Things where the teenage bully puts a switchblade to the throat of one child and forces another to jump off a cliff to his death? That scene was an homage to 80s movies in which the teenage bullies were usually sadistic spree killers on the side. Every kid who grew up watching these movies entered high school assuming their academic career would end with their own intestines splayed on a locker room floor.
Thus, our Neganesque bully stands ready to decorate his bat with some child brains. Fred Savage’s Louis pulls a squirt gun that is an exact Uzi replica …
… and I guess I should interject again to note that in the 80s, squirt guns were indistinguishable from actual guns, with no colorful markings to ease the minds of any nervous cops nearby. I actually had one just like what he’s carrying up there, it even had a fake spring-loaded cocking knob on top and a removable plastic magazine — we wouldn’t buy a toy gun back then unless you could 100% rob a bank with it. “Jeez, it almost sounds like the grownups wanted you to die,” you say. Haha. Yeah.
Where were we? Fred pulls out his Uzi and says, “Go ahead, make my day,” which it should be noted is a catch phrase from the 1983 film Sudden Impact aka Dirty Harry 4. The R-rated movie this eight year-old is quoting is about a woman who is brutally raped and then goes on a rampage of vengeance by, no shit, shooting her rapists in the cock. This line was referenced in this lighthearted PG-rated film about a magical teenager under the assumption that all of the 1986-era children in the audience had seen this nightmarishly violent rape movie and that assumption was absolutely a safe one.
Sonny the Bully says, “Oh, I’m supposed to be real scared of a water pistol?” to which Louis replies, “Ain’t no water in this gun,” and then works the action to chamber a round, because squirt guns used to be awesome. The bully, who really should already know, asks, “So, what’s in it?”
“Piss,” declares Louis, who then blasts a laser of hot urine right into Sonny’s mouth.
It is in this moment that Sonny finally sees his adversary for what he truly is. “LOOK UPON MY FACE!” Louis’s determined scowl seems to say, “AND LICK UPON MY PISS.” Oh, this troll will be paid, all right — only this toll will be paid in liquid gold.*
The bully falls to the ground, in shock at having been so thoroughly piss-toll whipped. He screeches for his nearby doberman to come and maul this child to death. Having been trained only for this, the dog flies into frame, the promise of tender young meat having driven it into a frenzy. How many such small, screaming meals has this beast enjoyed in the past?
Louis then calls for his own dog, Max, to come sacrifice himself to defend him. The dog obeys, leaping toward the attacker and, if I remember correctly, fucks the evil dog to death.
It is over. “He was hungry for power,” Louis thinks to himself, “and I prepared for him a fine feast indeed, a liquid feast, consisting of twelve courses of my own exquisite piss.”
The greatest cinema is like jazz, in that sometimes what matters most are the notes that aren’t played. In Jaws, you barely saw the shark, because you didn’t need to — it lurked menacingly in your mind regardless of whether it appeared on screen. The unseen shark of The Boy Who Could Fly is Fred Savage, in his bathroom, awkwardly attempting to fill a squirt gun with his own untamed spray of child urine.
For you see, that plastic Uzi would have had only a tiny quarter-inch hole with a plastic plug, intended to be filled from a faucet. The process of loading that gun with his own urine would have resulted in a child — and an entire bathroom — that was absolutely glistening with errant piss, a hundred times more than wound up on that bully’s tongue. It is understood, if not stated outright, that this was the price Louis was willing to pay. For in that moment, Louis was standing up for all of us; Sonny symbolized all of our oppressors, Louis symbolized the select few bold enough to resist even if it means sacrificing everything, the piss symbolized piss. This is what great art should do, embolden us to tap into the golden spring of our own fighting spirit, to exhort us to never turn away from an opportunity to speak piss to power.
This is the theme that would define Fred Savage’s career. Just three years later, he would star in Little Monsters, which features a scene in which a regular-sized monster played by Howie Mandel pisses in a child’s juice bottle, Savage watching as that child greedily chugs it down the next day. In 2007, Savage would make his directorial debut with Daddy Day Camp, a film which features a child filling a balloon with his own piss and smashing it into the face of another child. The man came into this world with a singular vision and intends to see it through.
Speaking of which, here’s the trailer for the new “almost as stupid as what you just read” novel I have coming out, give it a watch. Or, just imagine something like this column only it’s 110,000 words long. Publisher’s Weekly called it “brilliant” and we’ll all die not knowing if that was sarcasm or if the entire world has gone mad. It’s not for me to say and the only way for you to find out is to give me your cash.
You can pre-order Jason “David Wong” Pargin’s book Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, Bookshop or any place books like this are sold. You can also follow him on Twitter, his Instagram, or Facebook, or YouTube or Goodreads, or any of the many accounts he’s forgotten about.