Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A New Kind of Humor...Visual!

            Amy Sedaris uses humor in a way we haven’t witnessed yet in other books: visually. Her pictures throughout the book, her various drawings, and the way the book is laid out as a whole, makes her content humorous.  
            For example, in the very beginning she illustrates five different party invitations and critiques them all in order to express to the reader the proper way to send invitations and invite people to parties. The layout of the menus and recipes is very visual as well: her dishes being named according to what type of party it is make things humorous such as “Pork Medallions” and “Carrot Coins” for rich uncles that undoubtedly have many medallions and coins for themselves.
            I’m not exactly sure how visual humor functions—or if it’s a real thing, I could’ve just made it up. Some people may find visual things more humorous than others may. When I say visual humor I’m not talking about watching humor—such as watching a funny movie or TV show, like the clips we’ve been bringing to class—but rather the idea that humor can be found in pictures and in specific layout choices that give visual appeal to a book. I think that this possibly-made-up-not-actually-a-humor-theory is the best way to describe Sedaris’s book and she achieves this goal of visual humor very subtly: making her book as a piece of humor that much more successful.
            Some of her things are meant to blatantly be funny such as pictures of her with plant labelers—the only visible one being weed, and also her salt and pepper shakers that are labeled cocaine and heroin. But there are other pictures that are in the book that are just point-blank part of the recipe book but are put together and placed in such a way that causes the reader to experience humor: such as the various things with googly eyes—crafts that are listed throughout the book but that are funny to look at in reference to old people needing glasses (not to mention the choice for larger text for the old people section) or the picture sequence of making an angel food cake that eventually (after 20+ steps) looks like a total disaster. It is in these little visual moments that humor is formed and Sedaris sneakily achieves her goal to make us laugh.  

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