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Comedy: May 24, 2023 Issue [#11978]

 This week: Sarcasm
  Edited by: Robert Waltz
                             More Newsletters By This Editor  

Table of Contents

1. About this Newsletter
2. A Word from our Sponsor
3. Letter from the Editor
4. Editor's Picks
5. A Word from Writing.Com
6. Ask & Answer
7. Removal instructions

About This Newsletter

Sarcasm is like cheap wine - it leaves a terrible aftertaste.
         —Dana Perino

The subconscious doesn't distinguish sarcasm and jokes. It just accepts what it hears. That's the power of words.
         —India Arie

Sarcasm is lost in print.
         —Jon Cryer

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Letter from the editor

Is sarcasm comedy?

I suppose it depends on your point of view.

I've often said that the only funny pranks are the ones played on someone other than me. Which doesn't mean that all pranks played on other people are funny, just that it's a necessary condition.

So it is with sarcasm.

Consider this: Ann says, "a kangaroo can jump at speeds up to 80 mph."

Bill replies (in what's generally recognized as a sarcastic tone), "Oh, so you're an expert on marsupials."

Mildly amusing... if you're not Ann, who might end up getting defensive (and then angry when she's shown to be wrong; it's about half that).

A good working definition of sarcasm is when a person's words mean the opposite of what they say on the surface. Like when you say "thanks a lot" when someone has wronged you, or "sure they are," when they're clearly not.

Sarcasm is a rhetorical weapon, and just as when we see weapons used for desirable ends—to destroy zombies, for example—the use of sarcasm on someone who deserves it (who is not me) can elicit satisfaction, possibly including laughter.

There's an old joke floating around that goes something like this:

An MIT linguistics professor was lecturing his class the other day. "In English," he said, "a double negative forms a positive. However, in some languages, such as Russian, a double negative remains a negative. But there isn't a single language, not one, in which a double positive can express a negative."

A voice from the back of the room piped up, "Yeah, right."

While technically incorrect—a double negative in English is usually an intensifier (as in "there ain't no word for that" meaning "there is no word for that," only with greater emphasis)—the joke is still kind of funny. One should never let facts get in the way of a good joke. Or a bad one. Especially a bad one.

But it's funny at least partly because, and I'm going to ruin the joke here by explaining it, it gets one over on a supposed expert in the field. The professor is taken down a notch. Great for the rest of us slobs; not so much fun for the professor.

As with physical weapons, it's sometimes possible to dodge or deflect the bite of sarcasm. I find one method that's usually effective is to pretend you didn't pick up on the sarcasm.

Which leads me to the old argument that sarcasm is not always detectable in printed communication, such as online. I'm not so sure this is really the case. Much depends on context, and, as writers, we need to be able to provide said context when using sarcasm.

It's been said that there is great need for a sarcasm font. I'm not so sure about that, either, but if you do find yourself in a situation where your words need to be clearly marked as sarcasm, I suggest using Comic Sans.

It's not like it's good for much else except annoying the hell out of font nerds.

Editor's Picks

Some comedy for your amusement:

 NCIS cast and why do I care?  [13+]
Another Get the Bad Guy Cop Show..
by bob county

 Lessons  [13+]
Another year, another lesson.
by Sailor M

The Mad Tailor  [E]
A watch stops time.
by Beholden

 Little Witch Learns to Cook  [E]
A little witch has her first cooking lesson.
by Dorianne

Pearls of Wisdom (An Anniversary Poem)  [E]
Some times it's not what they say... it's what you hear. (Humor)
by 🌕 HuntersMoon

Pie-Ala Peach  [E]
She likes to bake pies.
by Don Two

 I Need You Right Now  [13+]
Bad but clean poem about my vice.
by Katya the Poet

Help! Help! Help!  [E]
An attempt at assisting my husband goes horribly, horribly wrong! Won't try that again.
by Siobhan Falen

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Ask & Answer

My last issue, "Comedy of the Past, garnered no comments. How wonderful.

(In case it's not clear, that was an example of sarcasm.)

So that's it for me for now—see you next month! Until then,


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