Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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It’s Never About You

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 clich├ęs 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.

March 13, 2009