Gun-toting. Cynical. Survivalist. Leathery. Strong-willed. These are just a few potential adjectives that outsiders think of when they conjure up a typical native Arizonan. As a result, we Arizonans defend ourselves with a wit sharper and crasser than an infected fishhook barrel cactus thorn. Not unlike our states hot climate, our humor might seem dry at first, but once we warm you up, you’ll have a hard time not melting into laughter along with us. Here are 10 things that only Arizonans find funny.
1. That priceless face that gringo visitors make when they cover their taco in too much habañero hot sauce.
It’s truly precious how so many taco stand newbies immediately dump the hottest sauce available all over their toddler-sized carne asada burro and try to cough it down as the roof of their mouth sizzles. If you want to make any Arizonan laugh in pitiful scorn, literally start crying during your overly-macho peacocking.
2. Intentionally and loudly mispronouncing regional words — like saguaro and gila — in a mixed crowd.
The best part is adamantly instructing listeners that we’re right and all others are wrong. It’s especially funny to think of them “correcting” their friends once they get back home to Michigan.
3. The horror that non-locals experience when they see and smell their first javelina up close.
Postcards and kids’ books make the collared peccary seem tame and even soft. Hilarity ensues when non-Arizonans see those sharp tusks pointed at them for the first time and smell their musky, glandular emissions.
4. Two-wheel-drive Datsun pickups loaded way too high to get under the rapidly approaching overpass.
We can’t help but giggle and give wide berth to the 1970s trucks creeping at 20 miles per hour down the interstate. Their beds spill over with mattresses stacked sky-high, overstuffed brown couches, the occasional child, and unfinished two-by-fours hobbled together with too few, too well-worn bungee cords.
5. Mock shootouts and other Western reenactments.
It’s not that the shootouts themselves are necessarily funny, but we chuckle at how so very into it the actors and tourists get. Sites like the OK Corral are four-deep with miserable screaming fourth-graders and dedicated history buffs who should know that these traps are painfully shy of accurate.
6. Other people’s sunburns
Seriously, there is no shame in slathering SPF 70 sunscreen on and wearing a big hat, even on cloudy days. The wrath of the blistering Arizona sunburn is real. Maybe we can conjure sympathy the first time it happens to a friend or family member. After that, it’s fair game for pointing and laughing.
7. Jumping cacti
The barbs and joints of a hanging chain cholla don’t actually jump onto passersby. Or do they? Arizonans — especially the snarkiest among us — don’t necessarily care about the science behind the plants. We just find watching you pull the needles out with tweezers exceptionally comical. (Use a comb, silly!)
8. The vehicles people drive here, and how poorly they drive them.
For starters, you have ancient elders propelling golf carts on sidewalks and/or interstates traveling at about 5 miles per hour, flipping everyone off. Then there are the gigantic monster trucks toting Confederate flags and “back off” Yosemite Sam mud flaps racing way too fast on dirt roads. Next, giant swarms of pro-level cyclists buzz by your Toyota and scream at you to slow down and watch for bikes. Finally, tourists from other countries manoeuvre gigantic rented motorhomes incorrectly onto one-way streets. We also break down into uncontrollable laughter when another yahoo insists he can cross a flooding arroyo. It’s either laugh or cry, people.
9. Hikers who bring too little water.
It’s somehow both funny and not funny when Arizona natives are evacuated from popular trails just because they were too lazy or cocky to bring the gallon of water recommended for even a short desert stroll. Come on, now, dehydration is for novices. It’s not like a snakebite or killer bee stings — it’s preventable.
Yes, of course, it’s gorgeous. But the woo-woo factor is painfully high, and we just can’t help but laugh at the vortex cults, the kiva divers, the avid dowsers, and the crystal and copper wearing New Yorkers, all trying desperately to find themselves on $500 Pink Jeep tours.