Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Of Course He Was Going to be a Jerk

It wouldn't be comedy if Jon was a general nice guy who just wasn't a morning person. No, he is an archetype that's fairly common in these sorts of stories. The all-American smiler who, behind the camera, isn't what he seems to be. There's a dream episode of Saved By the Bell where Zach is on the verge of becoming this, or does. It's been awhile since I saw it. What I like about this scene is that, since we're in Lucy's head, we know that she's offended. We know that she's uncomfortable, and we get to see it from her shy, non-confrontational perspective. Which makes it a lot funnier than if we saw it from a third-person perspective, because we, the reader, would wonder how Jon isn't picking up on any of it. It also calls back a defense mechanism that we've seen Lucy use in the past (imagining saying or doing something vindictive, yet just), while setting up any number of potential future jokes.

As always, fiction below the fold, and the table of contents can be found here.

* * *

Jon was in a much better mood at 7:00. I ignored a call from Christine while I waited for him to come get me. I felt empowered, breaking away from her. He and his fabulous hair sat me down on a leather sofa, carefully draped with a blanket so that you just saw how expensive it was without having to worry about feeling how ugly it felt. Tasteful and practical. He apologized for his attitude in the morning, explaining he wasn’t a morning person. He offered me a drink.

When I said yes, he poured me a sherry. “It’s a social drink, perfectly acceptable at these kinds of meetings,” he said. “Like a three martini lunch in the 50s.”

“Productivity was way down in the 50s,” I said, putting the sherry aside.

“No, productivity is way up now,” He said, sipping at his drink. “You’re making a classic mental faux pas, using today as your baseline. We’ve gained in productivity because of the Internet and letting women into the workforce, increasing the net workforce while also increasing demand for certain services. Comparatively, we needed to produce less to get more then.”

“I like being in the workforce. I like demanding services.”

“I’m just saying that from a historiconomical perspective,” Jon said. Even his big made-up words sounded better in his voice. “I’m glad that women are in the workforce. It has been good for the economy, you see.”

“And because it is right.”

He waved his hands dismissively. “The invisible hand doesn’t care about what’s right. It works. Being barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen is too expensive and inefficient. Being pregnant and producing in the workforce for eight months is much more efficient.”

“So, is your speech’s theme: Women, where it is acceptable to be pregnant? Because if it is, it sounds like you don’t need me for it.” No, I’m kidding. I didn’t say that. I just nodded and doodled three-dimensional squares in the margins of my notebooks.

“So, what’s your idea for my speech? Lay it on me.”

“Beg your pardon?”

“I figured while you were out all day you were thinking about it,” Jon said. “You know, being efficient.”

“And if I were pregnant, then I could’ve been doing three things at once.” No. I’m kidding. I didn’t say that. I clicked my multi-colored pen to red so that the squares could be angry now.

“Well, my first idea was to talk about why they picked you, you know, a personal connection.”

“I hate my dead wife,” He said.

“Does anyone know that?”

“Just you, the man she slept with and my neighbors who were here the night I walked in on them,” Jon said. “So, no one important.”

The angry squares were now shooting lasers in Jon’s general direction. “Then let’s start there. Well, let’s get started. We have a lot to do before the show tonight.”

“Right, good choice Lucy. Let’s give the rubes the real razzle-dazzle,” He said with a chuckle. “I played that role once. Now, theater, that’s where the real magic happens.”

1 comment:

  1. I think set-up and call-backs are probably the easiest way to do comedy to reinforce character traits, but also the hardest. Well, the easiest besides saying: "Alice is vindictive and Bobby is misogynistic, so it is funny when they sit together."

    Very rarely is telling as funny as showing. Alas, all of these insights into comedy. If only I were a funnier person. Sullivan is handling all Web postings for me for now, until I find my funny again.

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