Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sarcasm Writ Large

sarcasm--pointed and exaggerated irony, intending to derail or deflect a status quo; a blistering overstatement of intentional underplay of a character's self-interest or agenda.

Arguably the most difficult emotion to convey in writing because of its heavy reliance on context, sarcasm found one of its most enduring modern spokespersons in Dorothy Parker. In a review of a book, she said, "This is not a book to be set aside lightly. It should be hurled across the room with great force."

Look at it this way:

The humorist pokes fun at himself.

The ironist pokes fun at the human condition.

The satirist is a moralist without the clerical collar.

The sarcasm maven wants to elevate his own status at the expense of yours.

Proceed accordingly.

A current sarcasm maven worth watching (because of his superb control) is Stephen Colbert. His targets are well articulated, his irony extends from verbal acuity to a perfected tone (see Dead pan delivery) and impeccable sense of timing. So deft is Mr. Colbert and, thus, worth study, that on many occasions even his targets of opportunity are convinced he is arguing on his side. Few persons are as repelled by his on-stage persona as they are by the persona and likes of Don Rickles.

Hint: Even if you find sarcasm attractive, spend some time crafting irony before you proceed into the print and digital worlds.

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