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Home » Archives » March 2007 » Moses Presupposes his Toeses Are Roses
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03/13/2007: Moses Presupposes his Toeses Are Roses

You know, I had fun discussing that fragment of an Andy Barker, PI scene yesterday. Yes, I think I'd like to look at the rest of that scene. Note that this exchange does not appear in the final version because it was cut for length, but it's still a joke I like very much:

/The bit we discussed yesterday leads into.../

Nope. Wait! Yes I can! I mean, they taped the lesson! They probably still have the tape at the club.

Lew gets up.

All right, then. Let's go. It's three in the morning. The place'll be deserted. We can break in and lift it easy.

It's three in the afternoon.

Then we'll need a plan.


I'll call this a presupposition joke. It's much funnier to have a character be wrong about something they're presupposing than about something they're asserting. When Lew says "It's three in the morning," even though in this particular joke it's phrased as though he's asserting it, it's very clear that he doesn't think he's telling Andy something he doesn't know. Lew is presupposing that it's the middle of the night, and therefore, in the absence of other evidence, the audience will assume he's right. Then, when they realize he was wrong, the result is humor. Humor!

I remember attending a taping of some sitcom when I was new in town. (Perhaps it was Blossom? Perhaps not.) There was a joke in which a not-very-bright teenager, AFTER announcing that she'd been given a school assignment to write about "Women of the Nineties" asked, "Wouldn't they be really old?" Another character corrected her. "Women of the nineties, not in their nineties!" The joke, if I recall the audience reaction, fell somewhat flat. You might think the joke is a lost cause, but I actually think, by reworking it as a presupposition joke, it could've worked. If we started the scene with the girl collecting a lot of information about osteoporosis and needle-work, explaining to her friends that she had this assignment about "really old women," then it's possible that it would've been amusing to have someone glance at her assignment and point out that she'd misunderstood it -- that she'd made a wrong presupposition. At least, I suggest, it would've had a slightly better chance.

Lunch: bowtie pasta with marinara sauce and artichoke hearts


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