Jonathan Lethem’s use of humor makes it one of the strongest literary devices used throughout the novel. Anything from his ticks to the constant bickering between characters are written in a way to surprise you with sarcasm and absurdity. For example, Lionel recalls an argument between Tony and Gilbert where there may or may not be a body in the trunk:

“I don’t want to stay if it’s a body, Tony.”

“Gilbert, you fat fuck. What if it is?” (168)

I fund this quite humorous because it was so abrupt during the height of the confusion for the Minna men. The blatant insults in a tight situation only add to the rawness of the predicament. Another example would be an interaction between Tony and Lionel. Their interactions are often funny because of the consistent wordplay and tics alongside the duos long-standing loathing of each other, where Tony threatens Lionel by saying,

“You idiot freak”


“I’ll beep you twice, alright” (179)

Lastly, this one comes straight from the third wall. Lethem hints every once in a while that the novel is self-aware in one way or another. When narrating and reaching a climax, Lionel stated that “Tony winced; These cliches hurt”. Anything in media that doesn’t take itself too seriously should be considered a form of comedy. Comedy is about making fun and playing with our frustrations into something we can laugh about and fuck everything else. Lionel might not be too different from George Carlin or Louis C.K. for all we know, between them and the character they would have all lost their minds if they couldn’t yell out the pressure for all to see.



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