"Probably the toughest time in anyone's life is when you have to murder a loved one because they're the devil."
"I find you can often find humor just by turning something upside-down. Like a... small child."
Emo Philips is an Illinois-born comedian who is best known for his dark and surreal stand up routines, as well as his flat-out bizarre stage persona, which is characterised by a flutey, dreamy, almost childlike vocal tone, scruffy, mismatched clothing and excessive body language (he often walks with his arms held at right angles to his body, and then runs his hands through his hair whilst talking, if he's not struggling to assemble a trombone that he never uses). A lot of the humour comes when he merges this innocent character with Black Humour
, much of which occurs when the audience least expects it. He is very good at twisting standard punchlines, taking a predictable end to a joke and swapping it for an unexpected and often very grim one.
As well as performing stand up comedy, he has acted in a few television series and films, appeared on UK panel show 8 Out of 10 Cats
, and was the executive producer for the 1992 version of Meet the Parents
He played Dooper in Slacker Cats
. He's not made many other appearances since the 1980s, but one place you can see him is as the office worker alone in his cubicle in the video for "Weird Al" Yankovic
's "It's All About The Pentiums"
— where he looks nothing like his demented man-child standup persona.
In 1988 he married fellow comic Judy Tenuta, but the couple later divorced.
Not to be confused with Emo Teen
, although to be honest, the risk of that is pretty low.
Tropes that apply to Emo Phillips:
- Ac CENT Upon The Wrong Syl LA Ble: Frequently.
- Alter Ego Acting: You rarely, if ever, see Emo Philips being himself in public. The stage persona is more or less all you get.
- Bait and Switch: The entire premise of his comedy.
- Black Comedy: Emo's jokes often consist of him cheerily discussing tragic or depressing events that have happened to him, or violent actions he himself has committed.
"My Cat gave birth to kittens, and My dad took me and the kittens down to the lake and we drowned them, and I was crying my eyes out because I couldn't get them to skip."
- Brooklyn Rage:
New York's such a wonderful city. Although I was at the library today. The guy was very rude. I said, "I'd like a card." He says, "You have to prove you're a citizen of New York." So I stabbed him.
- Catch Phrase: Appears to be, "Well, live and learn . . ."
- Jive Turkey: Yes. Really. He will occasionally stick tidbits of urban slang into his routine to throw you off. Needless to say, it's Played for Laughs.
- Major Injury Underreaction: When he appeared in UHF, his scene involved him accidentally sawing off a finger. His reaction was one of mild embarrassment at his clumsiness.
- Psychopathic Manchild: His stage persona sort of fits this, as rather than being deliberately violent, he gives off an impression of not totally understanding right from wrong, or serious incidents from trivial ones, resulting in horrible anecdotes being delivered in the same way someone might talk about the weather.
"Some mornings, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps."
"I love to go down to the schoolyard and watch all the little children jump up and down and run around yelling and screaming.... They don't know I'm only using blanks."
- Riddle of the Sphinx: One of his jokes involves telling this riddle to an assassin about to kill him, on the terms that Emo goes free if he answers incorrectly. The assassin gives the most well-known answer, but naturally, he's wrong. Emo's answer: A donkey has four legs in the morning, then you saw off two of them in the afternoon and then you glue one of them back on at night.
- Shaggy Dog Story: He tells a long story about going to a library to find out information about the Heimlich maneuver where he has multiple long exchanges with librarian, has to make a side trip to get change for a Xerox and so forth when he finally gets back to the car, his sister is purple from the chicken bone she's choking on. So it's a subversion.
- Silly Walk: He often walks unusually slowly with his arms held out to the sides of his body.
- Trademark Favorite Food: He mentions cole slaw at least once in all of his shows.
- Turn the Other Cheek
"That way, the swelling comes out even."