Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Humor and irony in noir

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 22 Oct 2004

At 11:51 AM 22/10/2004 -0400, Mark wrote:

I laugh out loud all the time while reading Ken Bruen, Joe Lansdale, Jason Starr and, most recently, Charlie WiIliams's Deadfolk.

Yeah, I think humour is primal and can only be described as that which makes us laugh (aloud or otherwise.) And what makes it dark?

"Although that's a joke, much of his (Pryor's) humor is based on laughing at life's absurdities, as is much of the humor in noir."

Okay, laughing at the dark things in life, its absurdities etc. but the prime characteristic that makes life and humour dark is that we are laughing without trying to do anything about these absurdities etc. We can only laugh and accept them. Laughter is a defense mechanism that lets us
"whistle past the graveyard," as you say. It helps us to endure, or survive.

Yes, humour is all over noir (or the opposite) but is it essential? It may be essential to the genre as a whole (I can't envision many people reading a lot of noir without the help of this defense mechanism) but may not be essential to each individual work within the genre. I'm thinking, say, Last Exit Brooklyn. I've only seen the movie and it certainly seemed noir to me, without any humour I can recall. Don't think I could watch or read many like this in a row without some Willeford and Thompson in the mix somewhere, though. Then again, maybe there's an overview of ironic humour to Last Exit?

I am thinking, however, that humour is the useful response to critics of the genre who ask how we can read this stuff when it denies hope as it does. Just don't tell them they're the joke. They get all huffy, then violent (see CSI Miami.)

Best Kerry- who likes to think he's past his huffy stage.

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 22 Oct 2004 EDT