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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thursday 8/26

Sarcastic Humor

Sarcasm can be very funny, but it can also be very tricky.  It requires a degree of social familiarity.  If you’re sarcastic (in an attempt to be funny) around people who don’t know you enough to know you’re being sarcastic, it can turn quickly awry.  You might accidentally insult someone, which is definitely not funny. 

Ok, so it’s tricky.  Got it.  But what is it?  Sarcastic humor often times involves exaggeration.  The more exaggeration used, the easier it is to detect sarcasm.  And less exaggeration is reserved for the seasoned sarcastic.  Here’s an example I use a lot:

Let’s say someone you know is making you dinner.  They’re making a new ricipe you’ve never tried before.  Say, I don’t know, sea urchin soup.  (Sounds obscure, right?)  Anyway, you both try it and it’s the worst soup you’ve both ever tried.  Your chef-of-a-friend says, “This is terrible, don’t you think?”  You say, “Are you kidding, it’s the best sea urchin soup I’ve ever had!”

While it’s true that, technically speaking, it is the best sea urchin soup you’ve ever had, (since it’s the only one) it’s also disgusting.  That’s sarcasm.  Let’s take it up a notch:

I like going to Starbucks in the morning when I can.  And if I’m in the mood for a treat, I’ll get a double tall, soy, no whip, white chocolate mocha.  (Just typing it makes me want one.)  Sometimes, the baristas will ask me how it is.  I’ll say, straight-faced, “It’s the best double tall, soy, no whip, white chocolate mocha I’ve had all day.”  I might get a chuckle out of my sarcasm from them.  It’s supposed to be funny because clearly it’s the only drink like that I’ve even had all day, especially since it’s first thing in the morning.  In this case, it’s also slightly dry humor based on the delivery of the remark.  I rambled off the drink name without skipping a beat.  In the moment, it’s funny.

Another way to be sarcastic is to combine it with irony.  Here’s an example:

Also, don't forget to check out this new gadget I found for my blog.  There is a random post finder on the welcome note in the sidebar and another one at the bottom of the page.  I'm such a dork that I even click it myself sometimes, just to read a good old post.  It's for that extra fix!  


Ups Downs All Arounds said...

I've noticed that society has taken sarcasm as something that is supposed to be meant as humor. I'm not in disagreement. I actual look at the word sarcasm the same way. It is humorous.

I just find it ironic that the actual definition of sarcasm is not meant for humor. The definitions of sarcasm are: harsh or bitter derision or irony; a sharply ironical taunt; sneering or cutting remark.

To take that even further, the actual label that should be placed on our actions (according to the dictionary) is facetious (instead of sarcasm).

The definitions of facetious are: not meant to be taken seriously or literally; amusing; humorous; lacking serious intent; concerned with something nonessential, amusing, or frivolous.

It is funny how society adopts terms like that. It has exactly the opposite meaning in which we perceive it.

What do you think?

Ups Downs All Arounds said...

Oh, I got the definitions of both words from :) Sorry for not referencing.

Cole Garrett said...

The way sarcasm developed into humor is a lot like slapstick humor. Slapstick is painful to the victim, but funny to everyone else. For example, a kick in the groin. It probably wasn't always laughed at, but it is now. I laugh, but I wouldn't want it to happen to me.

Sarcasm, by definition, is hurtful, but not on a literal level. Facetiousness is also not literal and somewhere along the way, the distinction line between the two got blurry. Facetious and sarcastic have become interchangeable.

Society is the catalyst for almost all change, even the semantics by which we live!

Ups Downs All Arounds said...

Great food-for-thought! This is why you're awesome!

Hoi Sun said...

Thank for defining sarcastic vs dry humor. I am a fan of sarcastic. But most of the time when I am being sarcastic, people think that I am being serious. While I am being serious, people think otherwise. Sigh...

Cole Garrett said...

Sure thing. And like I said, it's definitely tricky. You have to really skim that line between seriousness and joking to pull off sarcasm humor.

Anonymous said...

This was the best blog I've read all day!!

Cole Garrett said...

Thanks! I appreciate that. Don't forget to use the share buttons that I fiiiiinally figured out how to add.

Jess said...

Sarcasm is one of my most favorite things. Well, that and the double entendre.

Betty said...

Nice post! Sarcasm is abundant in my house...and we wouldn't have any other way!

Cole Garrett said...

@Jess. I wrote a post on double entendre a while back. You should check it out:

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