December 10, 2019

With Christmas Comes Nostalgia -

Monday, December 9, 2019

November Book Recommendations -

Monday, December 9, 2019

SMHS Mateobotics Gears Up for the Season -

Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Leap from High School to College Sports -

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Mateo Comes up Short: 2019 Little Big Game -

Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Master of Self-Deprecating Humor -

Thursday, November 14, 2019

How Old is “Too Old” for Trick-or-Treating? -

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

We Need to Get Serious About Shootings -

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

How Boyan Slat Is Helping Solve The Great Pacific Garbage Patch -

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Youtube’s Yankovic turned Chinese TikTok Star: Bart Baker -

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

#TeamTrees -

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Varsity Football -

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

CA Bill Pushes School Start Times Back -

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Why the Empire Strikes Back is the best Star Wars movie -

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Pros and Cons of Energy Drinks -

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Movies to Watch during Halloween -

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Bearcats Strike for Climate -

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A Personal Account On Vaping -

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Girls Water Polo Resumes Winning Ways -

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Running into the 2019 season -

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The Master of Self-Deprecating Humor

Lemony Snicket, or Daniel Handler, author of “A Series of Unfortunate Events,”  loves to make fun of himself and his work. The back cover of most of his books makes this abundantly clear, as do their contents and even Snicket’s own website. “Please note that the author has been called a fraud, a criminal, a bestseller, a corpse, a fictional character, an unreliable narrator, an objective flaneur, an embattled gentleman, a magnetic field, an arsonist, and late for dinner by an odd number of dubious authorities,” reads the inside cover of his book “An Unauthorized Autobiography.” Despite the author’s insistence that the reader run far, far away from his books, millions of readers have ignored him and read them anyway.

There are many reasons that self-deprecating humor works as a draw instead of a deterrent. While there might ordinarily be distance between the reader and the author, this style of humor makes the author more accessible. By not taking him or herself too seriously, the author, along with their story, seem less intimidating to potential readers. In Snicket’s case, it’s his subject matter which needs softening. Snicket’s books target young readers, but contain death, danger and other heavy topics. Humor makes these complex topics easier for young kids to grasp.

Another benefit of using humor is increasing relatability, something that has gained more prevalence in the rise of social media. Writers, comedians and even brands strive to stay relatable to their readers and consumers. Humor helps to break the wall between celebrities and their fans, and makes these figures seem more down to earth. Humor focusing on everyday problems makes readers and customers feel understood and therefore more willing to read or buy from that author or brand. 

From the perspective of an author or comedian, using this style of humor also acts as a defense mechanism or a way to stay ahead of critics. Acknowledging their shortcomings through laughing with everyone else protects them from being laughed at by everyone else. While maintaining a standard of professionalism is important, there’s an alluring confidence that comes from someone who can roll with the punches. 

Snicket also benefits, as can other writers, from sympathy. As a narrator, he goes farther than acknowledging his faults and straight into degrading his efforts both as an author and a guardian to the subjects of his story. This strategy preys on humans’ tendency to help other people and take pity on those who do not extend the same courtesy to themselves. Snicket’s narrator is comically critical of himself, so readers turn page after page to prove him wrong. 

Snicket often amuses the audience by focusing on entirely the wrong subject. For instance, he might spend several sentences talking about the best way to eat a sandwich when his characters are in the middle of a tense, dangerous situation requiring a good deal of cleverness to escape.

Finally, some of the appeal simply comes from reverse psychology. Once told not to think about something, there is nothing that can be done but to think about it. Likewise, Snicket’s warning that he is a very grim storyteller and that the story he is about to tell holds no joy entices his readers into learning every aspect of his characters and plots.

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