Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Humor v Pain

            Throughout the semester we have discussed several different aspects of humor.  Among the different purposes for humor is catharsis or, using humor as a release.  David Sedaris’ Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim is a prime example of humor being used for relief.

            The memoirs Sedaris writes are hilarious, moments are described in a way that not only make him a relatable and sympathetic character but also put the situation right in your face.  It is impossible not to encounter laugh out loud moments when reading this book; especially when you read about an adolescent boy manipulating his peers into getting completely naked during a game of poker.  Sedaris’ use of sarcasm and honesty combine to put the reader in a position where they feel involved in the moment, as if they were helping Sedaris and his mother move out of his apartment and away from the psycho mother/ daughter pair who lived next door.

            Although the memoirs are filled with hysterical moments there are equally as many sad moments.  Often the things don’t appear to be sad; rather they appear to be funny, especially because the event is obviously written about in hindsight.  I found myself feeling bad laughing at moments that seemed to be written with the intent to be laughed at; for example, when Sedaris has no idea he has been kicked out of his parent’s house because he is gay or upon visiting his sister Lisa when he explains the expected roles the children were to take on.  Although masked in a funny tone it pulled at the heart strings when Sedaris wrote that he “has been branded lazy and irresponsible so it was right when he dropped out of college and wound up living in his parents basement”.  Typically, the role of one’s parents is to support them in a manner that no one else could provide.  The fact that Sedaris and his siblings were essentially robbed of this is depressing and one can’t help to sympathize with them. 

            Sedaris has clearly become a phenomenon and his stories are extremely entertaining.  If a reader is only looking to the surface every event written about will be hilariously entertaining; however, if one reads deeper into the situation it will become obvious that Sedaris’ writings are a release for the pain he feels/felt about his family life as well as his unwelcomed sexual orientation.  This is not to say that we are not meant to find humor in the text, quite the contrary, it is obvious that Sedaris’ writings are meant to be a release for solely him.  

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