Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Bad Analogies or Good Humor?

I stumbled across this list of supposed "worst analogies ever written in a high school essay," but I noticed that many of the entries had the same flavor as a Douglas Adams quote or a Steven Wright punch line. I think that most of them, if delivered in the right context, would be that delightful mix of absurdist, wry, and twisted that I love in my humor.
The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't. ~ Russell Beland, Springfield

The ships hovered in the air exactly as a brick wouldn't. ~ Douglas Adams
See? That was almost precisely the same. The first one is a kid whose teacher thought his writing was horrid enough to submit to the website. The second is a famous, beloved science fiction writer. It's possible that young Russell was an Adams fan and his teacher just didn't get it. And maybe someone can enlighten us as to whether Adams himself had writing teachers who thought his writing was horrid. If so, well, I guess you can say he was laughing all the way to the bank...
He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it. ~ Joseph Romm, Washington

Whenever I fill out an application and it says 'In case of an emergency notify...,' I put Doctor. What the hell is my mother gonna do? ~ Steven Wright
Joseph's bit takes a while longer to get to the punchline, but you can see that the concept and construct is very similar in style. It makes me wonder if Wright's teachers never quite got his dry wit. I'm thinking no, most of them probably didn't.

So bad analogies? No, I think most of these kids hit the rhythm of good humor. But hey, that's me. I make a statement like black type in the middle of a big white space.

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