Isn’t It Ironic…………..

Posted on July 23, 2010

I forgot to wake my children up for their last morning at School yesterday, and as it was a half day, I decided to let them stay in bed as it was no educational benefit rushing them in for a couple of hours. Twenty minutes later I had a letter from the school congratulating them on above 95% attendance. How ironic, I thought, but was this irony or was it just coincidence? I have studied the Internet, and I am still not sure how to define this particular instance, but I was surprised to see what a close relative irony was to my personal favourite sarcasm. For example one website listed the following as a classic case of irony.

I have no doubt your theatrical performance will receive the praise it so richly deserves.

Such a statement is meant to both flatter and insult the recipient at the same time, because the intended recipient infers the statement to be a compliment, whereas everyone else in the room understands the underlying insult hidden within the statement.

I thought that was out and out sarcasm?

Does that mean that if I said that “Cliff Richard was in in my opinion, one the great songwriters of all time” I would be being ironic and not sarcastic? I am a bit confused here, but I suppose the tone of your delivery, and the sincerity of it is all important to the recipient.

There are of course black and white examples such as an ambulance driver running over the chap he has gone to rescue, and the”Unsinkable” Titanic sinking on its maiden voyage, but there are many grey areas. Apparently, a fire station that burns down, is not in the true sense ironic, because it does not contain examples of deceit, duplicity, or hypocrisy. So there you go.

Some of you may remember that back in 1996 Alanis Morrisette, who at the time was trying to be taken seriously as a radical and intelligent thinking songwriter, stupidly tried to write a song about irony, and ended facing years of ridicule from the media and comedians for her lyrics. some of her lines may be just about approaching ironic, but others were so out of context with irony, it effectively wrecked her career

Some of her best lines were:

  • It’s like rain on your wedding day (not ironic at all, unless she was marrying Ian McAskill)
  • It’s like a black fly in your Chardonnay (do fuck off Alanis, that is pathetic)
  • An old man turned ninety-eight/He won the lottery and died the next day (bad luck)
  • It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid (bad timing)
  • It’s a traffic jam when you’re already late (see above)
  • A thousand spoons when you need a knife (What the fu……….have you ever come across anyone rummaging through a thousand spoons looking for a knife?)

Perhaps Alanis Morrisette was a misunderstood genius with songwriting capabilities that were so far advanced that she is portraying the text book meaning of irony by singing a song called ironic with lyrics that weren’t remotely ironic at all, and actually made her look a bit silly.

I believe that my school absence incident probably was ironic, it certainly wasn’t sarcastic, but whatever you think, this sketch about Alanis by Ed Byrne is a good way to start the weekend.

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