Monday, July 30, 2007

On Witty-ness

Two of my favourite comics in the whole wide world are The Far Side and Dilbert. The Far Side appeals to the side of me that's read some history and anthropology and psychology, and just enjoys the quirks of human nature, while Dilbert appeals to the "I spend 40 hours a week in an office and sadly most of this is relatable" side of me. But the thing I truly love about both of these comic strips is that they find a way to capture the hilarity of the situation they're describing with a very short amount of words and pictures (The Far Side tends to use 1 panel only for each comic). They're truly "witty", in the quick-witted sense of the word.

I take to forwarding my friends Dilbert comics almost everyday, because I could never say what they say so well in so few words, or in such an amusing fashion. I'm actually fairly long-winded (as if you haven't noticed!) and I often wonder if wit and long-windedness can go together, because I do like to thing I'm good with jokes and can make astute observations. But my conclusion is that for this to qualify as "wit", it has to be brief. Isn't there an expression: Brevity is the Soul of Wit?

I guess I don't qualify after all. Oh well.

1 comment:

- K said...

Brevity is the soul of wit, yes, but then again, there's something to be said for irony. Consider, for example, the accompanying lines from Hamlet:

"Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief: your noble son is mad:
Mad call I it; for, to define true madness,
What is't but to be nothing else but mad?
But let that go.


That he is mad, 'tis true: 'tis true 'tis pity;
And pity 'tis 'tis true: a foolish figure;
But farewell it, for I will use no art.
Mad let us grant him, then: and now remains
That we find out the cause of this effect,
Or rather say, the cause of this defect,
For this effect defective comes by cause:
Thus it remains, and the remainder thus."

I'd say that's witty precisely because it isn't brief. So as a fellow long-winded person I say: don't feel bad. :)