Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Sedaris Silliness

What is most intriguing about Amy Sedaris’ book, “I Like You” is that she uses pictures to supplement her written jokes.  This book is not like television or movies where we can hear and see the joke; this is not like David Sedaris’ book where we can read the joke and visualize how the situation was funny.  Amy Sedaris’ book uses still photographs of squirrels, rabbits, tortillas with clock hands, worms with berets in wine glasses, felt discs, peanut shells with googley eyes, etc., etc..  In this way, there really is no joke to understand.  The text and photographs do not come together artistically to form a punch line; the pictures are just random. 

            Because photographs are not moving like a movie scene or are not as descriptive as David Sedaris telling a story, I think Amy Sedaris using photographs is tricky and daring.  It’s unclear how the photographs function in this type of humor.  Maybe she just included them because she could and she thought it would be funny.  This is plausible because the pictures are definitely absurd.  At one point, she is writing about how to entertain clubs and in the middle of the page, it says “no squirrels”.  On page 68, there is a picture of Sedaris with a bunch of plants—one of them being mushrooms that she sewed together which has nothing to do with the “Breakfast for Sleepy Hollow Heads” page that precedes it. 

Another function could be maybe pictures allow the readers to get a more comprehensive view of who she is as the author.  Sedaris’ book could have easily been funny with just the text, without the pictures.  But by using photographs, I think she supplements her humorous stories with humorous pictures (not that the pictures and text relate to each other at all).  Personally, the photographs allowed me as the reader to get to know Sedaris as the author on a deeper level—for one thing, I know she has no shame being photographed without pants on and being covered in whipped cream.  However, sometimes the other mediums of humor just don’t really give a bigger picture.  When we watched Dave Chapelle, we now know his opinions about terrorists and black people, but we don’t know that much more about him other than the bits he chooses to discuss.  With David Sedaris, we read his stories, but his name is just the words on the front of the book.  The pictures do say a lot about who Sedaris is as a person in general.  Who else would put in pictures of squirrels and weird photos of herself posing in bizarre outfits? 

One thing is for sure: the pictures and the text complement each other quite well.  The text itself is funny, but combining it with other funny pictures is genius.  The majority of this book is not meant to be serious or cause change; the sole purpose is to make people laugh and Sedaris allows herself to look like an idiot both in her short anecdotes about her childhood and in the pictures.  Therefore, I’m not really sure what to make of Sedaris’ “I Like You”, but clearly Amy and David Sedaris are equally crazy. 

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