July 2nd, 2003

red panda eating bamboo

Regarding the humor in The Onion

I'm having a conversation with my sweetie Joyce about one kind of writing in The Onion (for example, It's Not Nice to Be Smarter Than Other People).

We agree there are two layers to this piece:
  • Layer One: what the words say. ("It's not nice to show off.")
  • Layer Two: the satirical meaning of the piece ("Let's mock people who think that showing knowledge or intelligence is rude.")
I also think there is a
  • Layer Three: but really, don't you also know people who don't know when to shut up? Doesn't the "author" have a legitimate point, even though "she" takes it rather farther than you'd take it?
To me, if Layer Three exists, it changes the humor from humor-at-the-expense-of-others to humor-at-our-own-expense (which I think is a gentler form of humor).

What do you think?