Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally

The Family Circus Was Funny Yesterday!

Posted by Neal on July 25, 2005

In the movie Go, there’s a scene where a guy is telling a character played by Katie Holmes how much he hates The Family Circus. He says, “And it’s always there, in the lower right hand corner, just waiting to suck.” Why does he read it, Katie Holmes asks him? He admits, “I hate it, but I’m strangely drawn to it.” I remember that scene because I knew how that guy felt.

It’s hard to choose what annoys me most about the strip, but a strong contender is that Bil Keane can’t seem to decide where to put the words that the characters speak. If it’s a one-liner, it’ll go in the caption. But if there’s a setup and a punchline, one will go in a word balloon while the other goes in the caption, and I don’t know which to read first. I hate reading a caption and thinking, “Uh, I don’t get it,” and then realizing I have to read the other half of the joke up there in a balloon–all for a joke that’s more likely to make me gag than laugh. It’s even more confusing when the setup and punchline are spoken by the same person, and still put in different places.

So imagine how surprised I was to read TFC yesterday in the Sunday paper, and find myself spontaneously laughing. This one had two pictures, one with Jeffy and Mommy about to enter a church, and the other with them just on the inside. Jeffy asks, “How come the front of the church turns into the back as soon as you walk through the door?”

Hey, he’s right! I don’t know which end is front!


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