Unemployment is a Laughing Matter
I once had a job interview where I accidentally let slip my identity as a devout Roman Catholic. This was apparently a real mark in my favor, as the interviewer was also Catholic — right until I stuttered out that I wasn’t actually.
“Not actually what?” she asked.
“Not, um… I’m not actually Catholic,” I replied.
The look on her face. Jeez. You have no idea how much I wish I were just trying to be funny right now.
Anyway, Funemployed! is a game about that, except played for laughs instead of a lifetime of cringes. Come on in and we’ll talk about it.
Did you know that Apples to Apples was awarded the Mensa Select award in 1999? Here I thought those guys were all about being smarter than everyone else, and then they go and make the weirdest list of games I’ve ever seen. It’s almost like they’re insisting that people with high IQs don’t play many board games.
In the same vein as games like Apples to Apples, Cards Against Humanity, and Apples 2 Apples 2: 2 Many Apples 2 Handle Part II, Funemployed! sees a table of loved ones trying to use the cards in their hand to come up with the most humorous response to a judge’s prompt card. Then you do it again. And again. For a good long while.
However, unlike those other titles, Funemployed! isn’t about being as abstract as possible, or even about being as abstractly crass as possible. Rather, it’s about landing a job. Which means it’s about something we can all get.
See, each round casts one player as the “employer.” He flips over a card to reveal the job he’s trying to fill. For example, right this instant I flipped over “Gym Teacher.” Then each player gets a hand of qualifications. You might be someone with skills like S&M, Jacked Forearms, Australian Accent, Mind Reader, and Pyromaniac. Or maybe Steroids, Scissors, Really Bad Aim, Hallucinates, and Oedipus Complex. You’re given a moment to “build your resume,” swapping out your worst cards for a few of the freebies in the middle of the table, and then it’s time to hold your interview.
Maybe you ditched S&M and picked up Affirmative Action. So go for it! Tell your interviewer that you’ll fill all their school’s race and gender quotas. That your Jacked Forearms are an obvious qualification, because just look at them (then make absolutely sure to kiss them). That your students will listen to you because of your sweet accent. And since you can read minds, you’ll immediately detect when a couple of kids are planning on ditching class to get pregnant beneath the bleachers. And so on.
Without ever wandering anywhere close to complex, it’s the type of party game that takes that critical extra smidgen of intelligence and insight in order to play well. Rather than just playing a card and laughing at how silly the combination is, Funemployed! requires you to be clever. It wants you to prove you’d be the best B-Movie Actor when you only have six months to live — “Because I’m dying of non-Hodgkin lymphoma,” you say. “I’ll pour everything into this role. Go with me and I’ll turn your B-movie into an A-plus-movie.” And then you’ll all laugh, because your family never knew your tongue had that slender stripe of silver running through it.
Sure, you might get the occasional boorish interviewer who quietly regards your group’s offerings before saying something like, “Well, I wouldn’t hire any of you,” probably while adjusting their very serious pocket protector. And then on the next round you’ll get someone who wants to hire whoever has a space ship, because obviously that’s a qualification for pretty much anything. Which is just one way of saying that like any party game, it rises or falls depending on the party.
It’s a nice touch how each game ends with one player forcing everyone to interview for his job — as in, his real world job. This is especially funny when your unemployed bum of an uncle pulls it and insists he works at the library or something. Comedy gold right there.
That’s all there is to it. It’s simple, quick, and precisely as funny as the people sitting around the table.
However, where it excels is in enabling everyone to let their potential funniness spill out. It won’t make you clever any more than it’ll make you handsome, but most people are funnier than they initially appear, largely because they’re all buttoned up like a tank commander driving down sniper alley. And Funemployed! is the sort of game that gets people talking. Better yet, it gets them talking about a silly yet infinitely relatable topic.
Bottom line: it isn’t a masterpiece, and it’s still the same format you’ve seen across all four dozen Apples to Apples sequels and knockoffs. But all that aside, it’s very possibly the best of them.