'The Hangover' and male nudity: What's so funny about the penis?

Hangover-Part-II

With The Hangover Part II opening — presumably to record-setting box office numbers — this weekend, the best jokes in the movie will fuel watercooler chitchat for weeks. But a few of the biggest gags won’t be repeated in any workplace environment, at least without human resources getting involved: penis gags. We’re not talking about witty lines of dialogue about the male member, but rather scenes of full-frontal dude nudity (or dudity). The Hangover  Part II is swimming with penises. Or is it penii?

What is it about the sight of a guy’s junk that’s so funny? Whether it’s Jason Segel’s flaccid funny bone in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, or Sacha Baron Cohen and his hefty Kazakh pal’s wedding tackle in Borat, or Ben Stiller’s snagged-in-a-zipper frank and beans in There’s Something About Mary, the sight of a penis has become a dangling punchline.

Of course, you could argue that it’s about time. For decades, the only area in Hollywood where women seemed to have an advantage over men was in how often they were called on to expose their private parts on camera in gratuitous shower scenes. I suppose it’s some sort of progress that now it’s the men’s turn to be exploited and bare all. But unlike the hundreds of leading ladies who have lathered up in slo-mo over the years, Tinseltown’s recent wangapalooza isn’t presented erotically or for titillation. It’s a source of cheap laughs — a shorthand (pardon the expression) cue for audiences to bust a gut.

Granted, not all dudity is played for laughs. There was nothing funny about Viggo Mortensen’s manhood-bearing bathhouse fight scene in Eastern Promises or Harvey Keitel revealing “Little Harvey” in Bad Lieutenant. But lately, an actor unveiling his twig and berries feels like the new knock-knock joke. Knock-knock. Who’s there? My johnson (zzziiiippp!).

Not so long ago, you didn’t have to actually show a guy’s penis for a penis joke. One of the best running gags in the Austin Powers flicks is Mike Myers’ shagadelic superspy obscuring his twig and berries behind cleverly placed bananas, balloons, and bouquets of flowers. Meanwhile, Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg made us laugh at “D— in a Box” without opening the box and making us peek inside.

But with movies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Borat, and now The Hangover Part II, the ante has been raised. Over time, we’ll become more and more immune to the shock value of dudity and these scenes will become less and less funny and more and more limp. They probably already have. But one thing’s for certain: When Memorial Day weekend is over and all of The Hangover Part II‘s receipts are tallied, every suit in Hollywood will be barking at their underlings for more full-monty gags. So brace yourself for a lot more penii coming soon to a theater near you. All we ask is that they keep them away from 3-D.

Read more:
Bodies of Work Gallery: 40 Unforgettable Nude Scenes
‘Bruno’ poll: Did Sacha Baron Cohen’s shock humor go too far?
Viggo’s Eastern Promise: More male nudity?

Comments (196 total) Add your comment
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  • Tcrab

    What’s so funny about a penis? Uh Chris, have you ever seen one?

    • kim in kentucky

      exactly – LOL !

      • somet

        Mine is huge.

      • @somet

        Take off your Coke-bottled glasses.

    • steph

      those were my first thoughts too!

      • pickle t1ts

        wangs look goofy, like a cartoon elephant. floppy and sad.

      • chloe

        Oh pickle t1ts, go chew on a beef curtain.

      • SANDRA BERHARD’S GHOST

        @picklet1ts: Nobody asked for a description of your junk.

    • KelJo

      To quote Robin Williams from his 1987 show at the Met, “My God, it’s a ridiculous piece of flesh!”

      • Not Moby

        To quote Elaine, “I don’t know how you guys walk around with those things.”

      • MultiPass

        Vag is much more ridiculous. It’s a fleshy, wet hole that bleeds. Kinda nasty.

      • Tina

        @ MultiPass : Ouch. For sure you’re gay

      • SaM

        @ tina…. no i’m your mother

      • Blorp

        I’m not gay, and like that great line from superbad: I could live without the vagina. They both look pretty damn weird. And who’s in charge of naming them?

      • Squishmar

        To MultiPass: On the contrary, they’re not ‘kinda nasty'; they are like self-cleaning ovens. That’s where the bleeding comes in… from the inside out… clean as a whistle!

      • Windy

        or fog horn depending on the weather

    • gazmo

      We’ve NEVER seen women’s private parts on screen!!!
      Occasionally you’ll get a glimpse of a big clump of hair that looks like a half dozen unravelled Brillo pads – but actual vagina viewing has NEVER happened (outside of porn)!!

      • hotbutnotbothered

        Guess you never saw “Eyes Wide Shut” then. Or “Caligula”.

      • amadeline

        Female breasts, bums and crotches are “private parts” and they are everywhere in films and have been for years. You must still be watching cartoons. Men hardly ever show anything but the occasional backside, while full frontal is really rare. My girlfriends and I have always believed it’s because men are ashamed of what they have and can’t brag that it’s way bigger than it actually is once it’s “out there”! We’re all for more male nudity in film.

      • gazmo

        Caligula was porn.
        Eyes wide shut was flashes of wiry hair clumps.
        I stand by my prior statements!!

      • Ug

        @gazmo
        If you’re so desperate to see that in a non-porn film, than go rent “Cashback”, a British indie from a few years ago. Tons of female nudity, including a long shot of a naked woman’s… erm, shaved nether-regions. Apparently, the film was made just for people like you.

      • Danno

        While it isn’t pleasant there is plenty of it in the movie “Antichrist”

      • Addie

        I agree. Breasts are bountiful but nary a clear vagina in sight in regular films.

      • Trevor

        Watch My Bloody Valentine (2009). Betsy Rue, full-frontal, shaved, everything exposed for a good 3-4 mins. It’s not porn, just horror.

    • Verity

      I heard a commedian once say “it’s like God was in the middle of tying a bow when the phone rang.”

      • hannah

        this! god didn’t spend a whole lot of time down there that’s for sure.

      • M

        That comedian would be Lynne Koplitz.

    • joblo

      I dont think they’re funny. I find it disgusting to see on screen; especially used as comedy. No more please. Thank you.

      • D’s Advocate

        Yes, they aren’t funny. Let’s keep all the penises where they belong: doing ‘Hamlet’.

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    • Karate Pants

      Asking that we take your naked penis seriously is only making it funnier.

    • Dominique

      Precisely!
      Exhibit A: Kristen Wiig’s impression of a penis in Bridesmaids.

      • Allison

        That was hilarious.

    • kelly

      the way everyone is talking its as if it’s in every scene or like a porky’s type locker room scene — it is just not the case. and why shouldn’t there be equal treatment in this regard. Show a penis, get an nc-17, show everything on a woman, rated R.

      • Matt

        This is a joke, right? Explicit male nudity turns up in R-rated movies on ever more frequent occasion, while explicit female nudity is almost never found in mainstream films. (Pubic hair doesn’t count, obviously–I wouldn’t consider myself exposed if I had a giant clump of hair covering my groin region.) You have the double standard exactly backwards.

      • Squishmar

        It seems like you’re looking for a spread-eagle type thing… Ain’t gonna happen unless you’re looking at a porno. And you not being a female, I guess *you* might not consider yourself exposed but I can assure you that–pubic hair or not– women feel naked when they *are* naked.

      • slaythe

        actually, no, he’s not referring to a spread eagle type thing. what he means is a woman with a realistic pubic hair cut/style/whatever. lets be realistic its not the 70s anymore. are you aware that directors actually make their actresses wear prosthetic pubic wigs as to avoid getting an nc-17 rating? people here need to do their research before just randomly posting what they think theyve noticed over the past 10 years

    • KFed

      Argh Americans are so uptight

    • TooMuch

      What’s so scary about the vagina/labia. This is the last taboo to fall.

      “Escape from Guantanamo” had a lot of frontal female nudity, but any visible female genitalia had to be removed from the film to lose the NC-17 rating.

  • Matt

    The foundation of humour is a sitauation, action or dialogue going against expectations. A penis in itself isn’t funny (unless, y’know, it’s really really small) but we’re still at a point where we don’ expect to see one in a mainstream film, so in context it CAN be funny. That said, I probably won’t see this film as I’ve heard it’s lousy.

  • darclyte

    The recent movie “Hall Pass” had a pretty funny scene that involved 2 “twigs” that were VASTLY different in size and their proximity to the star’s face. The bad news was that the one was HUGE. The good news was that the other one was tiny. I’ve read that any women who tried to say that their man was lacking compared to the huge one, all the man in their lives had to do was point out the other one. Regardless, it was a funny scene.

  • kos

    It’s just shock value. It’ll pass. It’s the last part of the human body that is of shock value to people. Sometimes comedy is the unexpected. Just like butts were in the 90’s. The Simpsons showing Barts butt etc.. It’s really going to become non consequential the more it happens.

    • TooMuch

      Last part? What about the male anus? This could make for a funny “gay” joke or something couldn’t it. Maybe in the Hangover 3?

    • slaythe

      vagina still has more shock value. it never gets seen in any clear detail in anything mainstream. watch a tv show, or a movie, or anything. count how many times they talk about guys junk, then tally about lady parts. no surprise there. the simpsons movie showed barts 10 year old penis. it got a pg 13 rating. do you think it would have gone down like that if it was Lisa’s little vagina on the screen? nah.

  • Carlos

    I would like to see Bradley Cooper’s penis, not the short changed Asian guy’s penis.

    • Jerry

      Why? The Asian guy’s penis will make your penis look huge in comparison. Win-Win

  • Carlos

    As a gay man, I would rather see a man’s penis than to see a woman’s private part.

    • Meier

      Your comment is in no way redundant and startles me with its truth.

      • MultiPass

        LOL. I’m gay too but your comment is f&*king hilarious

      • Tina

        @ MultiPass: Knew it!

    • Squishmar

      As a straight woman, I would rather see a woman’s privates than a man’s penis.

      • Dee

        Me too!

      • Chris

        That’s because you’re a lesbian.

      • Squishmar

        No, I think it’s because we admire beauty… and unless you’re talking about Michelangelo’s David, women in art and photos in general are just more pleasing to the eye. Aesthetically, women, overall, seem to inherently have more beauty. And I, for one (and maybe Dee, too) appreciate that beauty.

      • Duane

        @Squishmar, that is an absurd comment. The reason you think that only women are aesthetically pleasing is because modern hetero culture objectifies women in that way. Great artists such as Caravaggio and Michelangelo left many portraits of beautiful men, museums are filled with nude male statues, and modern gay male culture is filled with startling images of male beauty. Have you seen a fashion mag lately? Objectively, both genders are equally beautiful.

      • Squishmar

        Duane… you’re absolutely right. Of course both sexes are beautiful in paintings, sculpture, photographs. I do *prefer* the female form but you are right. Although, when specifically talking about the respective genitalia of each sex, I do think women have the edge because of the intricacy and finesse… but again, I guess it is my subjective opinion. I totally jumped the gun (to allude to a phallic symbol) and responded too quickly and rashly in response to Chris’ glib comment about my being a lesbian for preferring the female form. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…. Hey, I’ve kissed a girl, and I liked it! But, no, not a lesbian.

        I’m curious, though about the gay men saying things about ‘straight’ men being pushed to them to get satisfaction from their inept, un-pleasuring women…. aren’t you “Born This Way”? I can’t honestly see a straight guy having sex with a gay man for satisfaction he can’t get at home… isn’t that what “ladies of commerce” are for?

      • DivaSoulSista

        As I straight woman I’d rather see a nice penis, … i.e. not Ken Jeong’s.

    • justin

      I’m gay and don’t mind seeing a woman nude..it’s kinda fascinating.

  • jrs

    If it were Bradley’s penis, I can assure you I would NOT be laughing, but just the site of Ken Jeong’s little ding-a-ling, cmon, you gotta admit is pretty funny!

    • Wha’ever

      The “site” ? Ken Jeong’s penis has its own website ?

      • lifeafterlost

        hahahaha Ken jeong to his penis: “alright it’s go time the wifey needs some loving”. penis to Ken jeong: “nahh man I got a website to run. to the computer!” hahahaha

  • Ken

    Chris, why don’t you argue against FEMALE nudity? Of course not, because you like boobies, just like others like to see penises. Just don’t watch the movie if you are THAT bother by a penis.

    • Marten

      He’s not arguing against male nudity or female nudity. He’s arguing against using male nudity as a punch line.

    • slaythe

      are you aware of how ignorant you sound? boobs =/= penis

  • Helen

    More hot/erotic male nudity, please! Bradley Cooper is a good place to start.

  • tg

    sounds gross.

  • Doris

    Not a funny scene at all, but in Angels & Insects, it’s right to see the brother’s penis so you know that he’s been having sex with his sister.

  • Garry

    Chris, by offering your own nicknames for the penis in your column, you are creating another example of the same thing you’re complaining about (although I can’t tell if you’re actually complaining or not).

    While you’re at it, you might as well ask why it’s supposedly funny to see a guy getting hit in the crotch by just about anything (most commonly by a kid’s whiffle ball on “America’s Funniest Videos”), but why it’s not funny to see it happen to a woman. I guess it’s just funnier to see a man in pain, huh?

  • Sanjay

    They are just funny and odd looking. They look like aliens attached to the body or something. God has a great sense of humor evidently.

    • jrs

      Wow, you’re sure looking at different d*cks than I am!!!

    • slaythe

      wow nice analogy. i guess one might say that some vaginas look like a 5 day old roast beef sandwich?

  • Merry Bear

    What’s not funny about them? You can’t take them seriously.

  • Ugly Jenny

    As a nurse, I’ve seen plenty of penises (for medical purposes of course) and for some reason I was always find them humorous (just never in front of patients).

    • Dee

      ha ha…they are funny…ugly and funny! Do any women really get turned on by looking at them? I’m a straight woman and I love sex and all but really, the penis itself is sooo not a turn on.

      • SaM

        now i know why straight men turn to us gay men sometimes because they sure turn me on

      • Squishmar

        Why can’t I respond to SaM?

      • Squishmar

        What I said (twice on the last page… because it wasn’t showing up here….is:

        Ummmm…. SaM? Those men aren’t straight.

      • Squishmar

        Okay, I can’t comment to Dee, now. Maybe it was the word I was using… but usually they just blank it out… there are no actual moderators here, right?

        Anyway, Dee, generally, I do not find the penis arousing and I find it amusing that so many men send picures of themselves to women thinking it will turn them on… However, during some acts….like fe11atio, I do find it excites me.

      • Chris

        Women really need to get over their hang ups about the penis or they will lose their men to all the gays. We gobble those things up while women act as if they are ticking time bombs. learn how to please your man or you’ll surely lose them.

      • Squishmar

        I think I’ve got it, thanks. I gobble it up, too (not ‘them’ because I’m monogamous).

      • Terry

        Sexuality is not black and white, Squishmar. The old joke goes “You know the difference between a straight man and a bisexual man? A six-pack of beer”
        Others obviously don’t agree, but I think a penis is fascinating. And erect? Sometimes magnificent!

      • DivaSoulSista

        I don’t think women in general get turned on by looking at body parts. We need more context than just “look there’s a penis!”

      • slaythe

        its a scientific fact that men gain more from, and demand more visual stimulation.

    • seattlejohn

      STEAM OF LIFE is a collection of interviews, all filmed in saunas, currently on the film festival circuit…the overall impression it left me with was how all these everyday guys use saunas as a therapeutic, spiritual space to recharge form daily stress and it was very refreshing for me as a viewer and the nudity is an unacknowledged given of no consequence

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