Irony In The Post-9/11 Age: Comedy And Tragedy As 'Very Strange Roommates' | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
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

From Bond Girl To Medicine Woman: Jane Seymour's Big Break

The actress is best known for her role as Dr. Quinn, the physician on the American frontier. But her big break came years before, when she played 007's tarot-reading love interest in Live and Let Die.
NPR

'Into The Wild' Author Tries Science To Solve Toxic Seed Mystery

Jon Krakauer has long been haunted by how Christopher McCandless died in the Alaskan wilderness. In a scientific journal, he and a chemist show that the seeds McCandless consumed can contain a toxin.
NPR

5 Things You Should Know About Ben Carson

The pediatric neurosurgeon, who entered the presidential race Sunday night, performed pioneering operations on conjoined twins and hasn't held public office before. Here's what you might not know.
NPR

The Promise And Potential Pitfalls Of Apple's ResearchKit

Apple's new mobile software platform is designed to help collect data for medical research, but concerns have been raised about privacy and informed consent.

Leave a Comment

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