I’m not talking about Crying Jordan, I’m talking about Crying Clifford. Clifford, as in Dennis Clifford, the Boston College basketball player who had a tough time at a press conference this year after his team lost the final game of their losing-streak season. Do you remember this video? I think it may be my favorite one of 2016. It goes like this:
REPORTER: “Cliff, what’re you gonna take away as your best memory from playing basketball at Boston College?”
CLIFFORD: “…Prolly just… like…”
[CLIFF SHAKES HEAD, LOWERS HEAD A LITTLE, LOWERS HEAD MORE, HANGS HEAD, SNIFFLES, SNIFFLES, 15 SECONDS PASS SLOWLY, THE ANTICIPATION IS REACHING UNPRECEDENTED HEIGHTS]
CLIFFORD: “Going out to eat.”
Goddammit, Cliff! You’re just gonna let all that suspense build up and then toss out an answer like that? What, did you steal that memory from a dentist’s retirement party speech? Eating is great, but so is brushing your teeth, and you don’t see anyone claiming it’s the most exciting thing about winning a Grammy.
Still, I’ll admit, we’re lucky this scene played out exactly as it did. I think it’s Cliff’s lengthy “instrumental break” that does it. He just can’t get the words out, and when he does, they turn out to be so aggressively average. Outside of any context, which is how I first watched this video, Clifford seems to be brought to tears by the mere thought of going out to eat. And the fact that his thought ends there — it’s not “going out to eat with all my teammates” — reduces the context even more, to truly great comedic effect. It’s easy to imagine Kenny Powers saying the same thing.
You might think this video actually captures a sad moment, not a funny one. The Huffington Post laid out the interesting hypothesis that, because Cliff was one of the many Boston College students who got food poisoning after eating at Chipotle this year, when he said “going out to eat,” he meant to reference his earlier food poisoning. And by that, he meant to imply that this basketball season was worse than food poisoning for his team. Well, okay! That is certainly a series of thoughts that could maybe have been running through Cliff’s mind during this press conference.
In reality, Cliff probably just means he’s going to miss his teammates, which is a nice little warm feeling to have. But this video alone doesn’t give us enough to understand that reality. That’s a bug of the internet, and also a feature. All we can understand for sure is that Dennis Clifford really loves going out to eat. And I really love to watch him say it.