Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Modeling off a coffee table book

While discussing Amy Sedaris’ book I thought it was interesting that we couldn’t seem to find a humor model that fit. Her humor is not more unique than anyone else and she is not the first person to have visuals, lists, and a sporadic form so I couldn’t understand why is was such a struggle to categorize her. I think what makes her truly different from other people is that Sedaris’ book is what is known as a “coffee table book” or a “gift book.” Matt made the really great point that this book is one that is not meant to be read cover to cover, that the pictures, and text are really meant to be flipped though and not intensely underlined, highlighted, and sticky-noted as us English majors are so inclined to do. This book is to flip through or reference for a recipe while getting a laugh at her ridiculousness and because of that I think that Sedaris chose not to explore a deeper humor model that would be fully developed. I also think this allows her to use bits and pieces of many humor models that make the book as chaotic as its form, which adds to the overall effect.

Three models that I noted were that of realism, contradiction, and a joke that is built up. Like many of the authors that we’ve read thus far, Sedaris points out the humor in the everyday things of life. She has a section entitled “15 minute meals in 20 minutes.” This is funny because it’s a contradiction but also because realistically fifteen-minute meals take more than fifteen minutes, therefore it’s funny because the contradiction is right. The other type of humor she explores is that of a build up. She’ll start with very sensible advice such as having her rich uncle over and therefore making everything comfortable (this includes putting a lamp and an alarm clock next to his bed). She then proceeds to put fake fruit, hand cream, and writing materials, which is ridiculous and more like a hotel. Finally Sedaris becomes fantastical with her addition of “a picture of a window” because she doesn’t have one and “a trail of glitter from the window to his bed so when he awoke he could imagine a fairy had come to visit him while he was sleeping” (55). Overall I think that Sedaris’ book is unique in its form, which adds to the books humor, however, it also makes it hard to establish a concrete humor model though there are traces of many different types.

No comments:

Post a Comment