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Home » Archives » January 2007 » Jokes to Make You Cry
[Previous entry: "Making Mistakes on Purpose"] [Next entry: "A Rule To Not Obey"]

01/09/2007: Jokes to Make You Cry

Quiz. What movie is this joke from?

- I trust this will have a soporific effect?

- I don't know about that, but it sure does make you sleepy.

I'm sure you recognize the joke *form* right away. This is a "Gilligan." Jokes of this form occurred regularly on Gilligan's Island. It is a particularly cheap and silly sort of joke. This specific example, however, is actually from "Wit," the play/movie about a woman dying of cancer. It occurs at a very sad moment in the story.

What I love about this example, and one of the things that I think makes it work in the script, is that the joke is *so* cheap, so simple, such a devalued joke form. When the characters laugh at the joke we realize how desperately they need to laugh. And that they're partly laughing at themselves, at their need to laugh. It's giddy; it's desperate; it's self-aware; it's human. Powerful stuff.

It's another good example of something I mentioned before, about making moments stronger through incongruity... look for that attitude or setting or event... some choice that that cuts against the expected, and exploit that gap in expectation. Break your readers' hearts through silliness... it's a surprisingly strong way to go about it.

Lunch: cheddar cheese and tortillas.


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