Comedic Repetition

In pages 157-159, Lionel enters the Fujisaki building and meets a group of doormen who all look and talk the same:

“No. Look Out. Can’t have this. Can’t have this here. Out.” (159)

Those lines were individually said by the five doormen one after the other. What I think Lethem is doing is he is using repetition and a little bit of absurdity to showcase this little comedic moment in the story. The five doormen are repeating whatever they say but in slightly different ways and it’s absurd because in real life, one doormen probably would have spoken for all.  I found this funny because those doormen can kind of fit in a cartoon. The quick, repeated and straight-forward responses works and reminds me of the group of birds in Finding Nemo that repeatedly shout “Mike!”

In page 146, when Lionel gets abducted and put in a car by four mysterious characters, he was calm and acted kind of playful towards his four kidnappers:

“But what’s the game here, guys?”

“We’re supposed to throw a scare into you” (146)

At this moment, there wasn’t really a specific punchline or a joke you were supposed to understand but Lethem was making this abduction comedic and light-hearted. Usually you would associate kidnapping with fear and evilness but the atmosphere from this moment in the story made me feel like Lionel wasn’t in any danger at all. The author is using characters to show us this. Lionel keeping his cool and the four men admittedly confessing their goal makes this little part comedic and it’s kind of ironic in a sense where the characters aren’t playing the role their supposed to in a situation like this.

In page 196, Lionel went back to the Zendo for some meditation but mainly to see Kimmery. In this instance, what I found funny was just the simple tics he comes up with in his mind.

“One Mind. Sick Mind. Dirty Mind. Baily Mind. One Mind. Oreo Man.” (196)

What Lethem is simply doing is using wordplay and using Lionel’s tics to make the moment just a little less serious than it is intended. What made it work for this moment is the randomness of the last thought “Oreo Man”. You can see the associations from the previous words but Oreo Man was different enough to make it comedic. Also, the fact that it was the last word of the paragraph made it seem like he was trying to be serious while saying “Oreo Man”.

Eduard Panopio


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