Filed Under:

Irony In The Post-9/11 Age: Comedy And Tragedy As 'Very Strange Roommates'

Saturday on Weekend Edition, Neda Ulaby looks at the issue of irony in the 10 years since the Sept. 11 attacks.

From David Letterman to Saturday Night Live to Jon Stewart, she traces the ways in which comedy has continued to collide with tragedy, perhaps even more than it did before. And she speaks to comedian Gilbert Gottfried, who took a particular public thrashing over jokes he made right after the events of 10 years ago — and over jokes in the wake of this year's Japan tsunami. (Not for nothing does Neda describe him as nothing less than "The King Of Too Soon.")

It's a distinction Gottfried embraces, saying that comedy and tragedy have always been closely linked. In fact, he says, "There's that old saying, tragedy plus time equals comedy. And I always say, like, why wait?"

Viveca Greene, a professor who's studied humor after Sept. 11, tells Neda that certain turning points, like Rudy Giuliani's appearance on SNL, made the process of comedy's recovery especially interesting to watch — like a comedy show asking a mayor's permission to go back to being funny.

Neda also visits with an artist whose candy-colored Sept. 11 images define a different aesthetic altogether: a notion of post-irony that is, as Neda says, about "embracing what's genuine, in a sort of weirdly self-conscious way."

It's an interesting tour through some of the challenges that comedy has faced in the last 10 years, since the death of irony was widely declared — and through the many different ways that professionally funny people have found to meet those challenges.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

A Biography Of Your Cubicle: How This Became The Modern Workplace

The office has long been seen as a symbol of boredom: It's a killer of spirits, a destroyer of spontaneity. But reviewer Rosecrans Baldwin says a new book brings out its entertaining side.
NPR

California Farmers Finagle A Fig For All Seasons

Two growers are competing to harvest fresh figs earlier and earlier in hopes of transforming the industry for year-round production. But some fig lovers say they can hold out for summer fruit.
WAMU 88.5

On National Mall, Native Americans Protest Keystone XL Pipeline

Native Americans from across the country are visiting Washington this week to protest the construction of a controversial pipeline in the Midwest.
NPR

Life Outside The Fast Lane: Startups Wary Of Web Traffic Plan

The Federal Communications Commission's proposal would let Web companies pay for faster access. But entrepreneurs, like Reddit's co-founder, are wondering how they would have fared with such rules.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.