4

In a speaking practice recording, a guy (Person A) is trying to place himself at the center of attention in a conversation about his job. The conversation goes:

Lady: Veronica talks about you all the time. I guess you must be pretty busy at work.

PERSON A: Well, yeah, a V. P. position is not easy, you know! I implement policies and procedures nationwide, of various departments, as well as train junior managers in FDA and EPA regulations. [...] that alone means I have 1500 employees under me. [...] what do YOU do for a living, Arthur?

Arthur: Oh, I'm a TOP GUN PILOT.

I can not see exactly how this response could work against a guy who is going on about his fabulous position at work.

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    I'm not sure if it's intended to be understood like this or not, but my immediate understanding of the joke (if it is one at all) is that by saying he's a pilot, thus working in planes in the sky, he has way more than 1,500 people under him. Millions, in fact. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 8 '16 at 12:32
  • @JanusBahsJacquet You should make this an answer. There's no question in my mind... "that's the joke" – corsiKa Nov 8 '16 at 18:17
12

Arthur is claiming (probably falsely) to be a top military pilot in reference to the old Tom Cruise movie Top Gun. He is attempting a put-down of Person A by making himself out to be more 'manly' than the V.P.

It is also possible that he is using an obviously false claim to military prowess and daring to imply that Person A is exaggerating his importance.

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    Yep. He might instead have said "I'm the king of England". Basically it's an obviously outlandish claim of prowess/importance. – Hot Licks Nov 8 '16 at 13:02
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  • The subtle difference between claiming to be the king of England and claiming to be an ace fighter pilot is in the obvious exaggeration of the former, and the possible truth - however incredibly slim that possibility - of the latter. In fact, as the latter would make Arther a military veteran if true, none but those who already know he's lying would dare to challenge this claim openly, or they'd risk disrespecting an honorable veteran. This difference has significant implications in this kind of comedy. – talrnu Nov 8 '16 at 21:47
5

"Top gun" is used as an informal expression to refer to;

(Slang) a person who is the best or one of the best in a particular field; the top-ranked person in a group.

Dictionary.com

In your conversation Arthur is using the expression "top gun pilot" ironically to contrast Person A description of their job which apparently requires top skills.

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