I’ve had a page ripped out of the New Yorker sitting on my desks for the last two months meaning to write about it here. It comes from a piece about the New York City paper The Village Voice, specifically the part where they talk about Jules Feiffer, whose weekly comic strip ran in The Voice from 1956. As the article explains, “Feiffer’s strips are about borrowed ways of talking, about the lack of fit between people and words, about the way that clichés take over.” Basically they were about the very people who read The Village Voice.
With all that setup out of the way, here’s the line that got me: “It’s sometimes said of this kind of humor that it succeeds by getting people laugh at themselves, but this can’t be right. People don’t like to laugh at themselves. This kind of humor succeeds because it gets people to laugh at people who are exactly like themselves.” I thought that was a super interesting insight. People never think about “themselves” in that situation: They always have a friend pop into their head. One who despite being exactly like them, is somehow different enough to be the character in the comic, movie or story. Not sure what to do with that, but thought it was worth sharing.