Outstreched arm

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Pearls of wisdom

Pearls Before Swine is an odd little Sunday comic, not quite sure of what demographic or interest group it wants to target; jokes range from simple sarcasm and insults to wordy cultural references. The characters are very well executed, but they're not terribly memorable; having read it daily for a few weeks now, I still only have a recollection of there being some mouse, a pig, and a goat of some sort, with occasional human characters (normally the target of insults).

But it's fun; not knowing where the humor will come from next can be a virtue, if only by comparison to the solid but predictable Dilbert. And even when the humor is of the very mild sort - normally a typical two-panel setup with a canned punchline - the writing is refreshingly verbose. And the art is really very cute.

The joke started in yesterday's comic was hilarious, though; shots at the Family Circus may be cheap, but god does it deserve them. And talk about risque - a political comic like Doonesbury is expected to do it, but with this, it's not even a commentary on anything; it's just flaming poo on Bill Keane's front porch.

Is it funny only because it's inappropriate? I don't think so. Look at Osama's puzzled face; at dad's embarrassement. It's not that "fatwa" is a naughty word; what's inappropriate about it is the cultural and political complexity of the very concept. Humor in general relies heavily on such level-crossing, mode-switching juxtapositions, and in this case, the contextual distance Stephan Pastis travels is significant.

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