In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb beale street poster 2

If Beale Street Could Talk

Jenkins’ decision to let the original storyteller live and breathe throughout If Beale Street Can Talk is a wise one.

Thumb tvovw7qjj63zbqw5tz8cjpthaud

Schindler's List

What is most amazing about this film is how completely Spielberg serves his story. The movie is brilliantly acted, written, directed and seen. Individual scenes…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb tvovw7qjj63zbqw5tz8cjpthaud

Schindler's List

This was published on June 24th, 2001, and we are republishing it in honor of the film's 25th anniversary rerelease."Schindler's List" is described as a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives

On Not Getting the Joke, Part Twenty-Seven Thousand Four Hundred Eighty-Two

gervais.jpg

While humor is a matter of personal taste, it's also a matter of misdirection (like magic), of absurd juxtapositions that violate expectations... and taboos. Perhaps you remember the image of one state politician's head pasted onto the body of another's baby -- and the latter's preposterous (and disingenuously exploitive) allegation that it was actually making fun of her child, rather than the politico who was portrayed as a baby. No one has been able to explain how ridiculing a baby could have been intended as funny, or as satire -- but, then, you'd have to be awfully thick to honestly believe that was the intent in the first place.

Advertisement

So, here's another strange one: In his new stand-up show, "Science," Ricky Gervais (best-known co-creator and star of BBC's "The Office" one of the great comic achievements of Modern Man) made a joke about regretting drinking and driving. You may or may not think it's funny, but here's the gist, according to Gervais:

"I've done it once and I'm really ashamed of it. It was Christmas -- I'd had a couple of drinks and I took the car out.

But I learned my lesson. I nearly killed an old lady.

In the end I didn't kill her. In the end, I just raped her."

Now, here's the way a writer in The Independent paraphrased it:

This kind of shtick falls down for me, however, when he describes the only time he found himself drinking and driving. Remarking that he nearly knocked over an old woman he adds: "I didn't though... I raped her." Gervais says that this is his "favourite" joke, but it is ill-judged to say the least.

Well, that's the way the clueless David Brent might tell it, but it's not at all what Gervais said. As he explained on his blog, The Independent's version is indeed unfunny, because it "contains no joke at all":

The joke clearly revolves around the misdirection in the term "nearly killed", suggesting "narrowly avoided". But, as it turns out, "nearly killed" means something much, much worse.

There will still be those, no doubt, who will persist in believing that the intent of the joke is to get a laugh out of the raping of an old lady. There's nothing that can be done for those people. You either understand the way the English language works or you don't.

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Video games can never be art

Having once made the statement above, I have declined all opportunities to ...

The Baffling Failure of Fallout 76

A review of Fallout 76.

Bernardo Bertolucci: 1941-2018

A tribute to the legendary Italian filmmaker, Bernardo Bertolucci.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus