(Note to new readers: On Friday, we skip politics and feature funny stuff from the past week.)
The dumber the joke the more important the execution, and this silly Non Sequitur gag wouldn’t have knocked me out of my chair if Wiley hadn’t drawn such a wonderfully pissed off Bo Peep, who I’m sure had been looking everywhere for her sheep before wandering into this bar.
I like dumb jokes (and I cannot lie.) I really don’t understand the hostility silly humor brings out in others, except, I think, that they feel they’ve been played when they try to figure out a gag and then realize it was easy from the start.
Elder son was telling me about how, when he was in the Navy, he visited Disneyland in Japan and, during a rainout, amused a group of little kids there with some language-neutral close-up magic. I asked if he ever did magic on the ship and he said no, that making shipmates feel they’d been tricked would not be cool.
I haven’t figured out an exact formula for where silliness is okay. It’s almost always a bad thing to try among preppies, who are fixated on maintaining their coolness, while a talented fool is prized in a “Barber Shop” setting, but beyond that, I guess it’s a read-your-audience proposition.
Nancy offers a twist on that, because this is more of a “wait, what?” joke that, while somewhat silly, is a neat twist on a cliche.
In fact, I’d begun to give up on the new Nancy, because its dada approach seemed to be settling into a dull pattern. And then she springs this, which was such a bizarre exchange that it set me back on my heels.
As soon as I got it, I felt a little sheepish, with a salute to the cartoonist for having made me think before I laughed. But, then, I’m good with being pranked: My response was “You got me. Good one,” rather than, “You got me, you wise-ass bastard.”
Speaking of which, if you haven’t read either of Terri Libenson’s graphic novels, “Invisible Emmie” and “Positively Izzy,” you should. Unless you don’t like “got me” twists.
I mention this because it’s relevant to this discussion, but also because, when I was discussing book reviews with my crew last week, “Izzy” came up and both the kid — who is nine — and her mother were passionate about the twists Libenson puts in her stories, citing them as an example of why you absolutely can’t can’t can’t inject spoilers into your reviews.
And I won’t spoiler them, either, except to suggest that, if you enjoyed “The Sixth Sense,” you’d love her work. She employs the same “now I have to go back and rethink the whole thing” twist.
Of course, in Nancy, it’s only three panels, which isn’t quite so much to rethink.
And as long as I’m distributing book plugs for pals, Brian Fies has a book-length graphic memoir coming out next spring about the fire that destroyed his home, that of Jeannie Schulz and many others in California. It’s a little early to plug it, but I have discussed it with him at some length, plus I ran into his editor, Charlie Kochman, at MOMA a few months ago, and Kochman’s enthusiasm for the project was absolutely over the top. This is gonna be more than worth reading.
Meanwhile, Brian has a really nice wrapup on Comic Con at his blog and, if you weren’t there, it’s the next best thing. In fact, it’s the next best thing to going to Comic Con with Brian, because he has just the right combination of “regular guy” and “comics insider.”
We all age differently, but my laff over today’s Arlo & Janis is that, many years ago, a friend sent me pictures from our 25th college reunion that included an old lover who still looked good but, well, like she was turning 50, which we all were. My GF gave it kind of a “meh” response.
Two months later, I got a Christmas card from an old college buddy and her family photo got a “Who’s THAT?” which was funny because she wasn’t the one I’d slept with.
She was just the one who hadn’t changed and, in fact, still looked damn good.
Which makes me suspect that there might be a very different dialogue in the home of Janis’s ex-boyfriend if he looks her up in his wife’s presence.
And on the topic of people who look good and age well, this Loose Parts came along just as Forbes Magazine named Kylie Jenner to their list of self-made female billionaires.
Which sounds like Ann Richards’ description of George W. Bush as someone who was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple, except that, in this case, it’s Forbes Magazine that defines Kylie as “self-made.”
Half-sister of Kim Kardashian West, who is also on the list for the first time, Jenner has leveraged her massive social media following (110 million followers on Instagram) to build a $900 million cosmetics fortune in less than three years. That makes her worth more than twice as much as her more famous sister.
Well, there ya go. I should have leveraged my massive social media following, but I’m too lazy and I lack the steadfast character it takes to run those last 90 feet to the plate on someone else’s homer.
This is more my speed, and, since we started with a dumb joke, why not end with one? And this is a completely dumb joke, unlike Wiley’s inventively dumb gag.
But that’s praise, coming from me. Willy ‘n Ethel is one of those strips where the jokes are utterly predictable, but so is the fact that you’re going to laugh, and there is a kind of Bob Newhart/Jack Benny talent to basically framing the same elements over and over in ways that remain fresh and funny.
Meanwhile, if you overstuffed one-percenters at Forbes want to see what “self-made” looks like, look here: