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treble, songworm

Anachronistic fake-out humor

Welcome to Night Vale did a very clever and subtle bit of humor in the episode I just listened to, #33("Cassette"), in a brief joke.  They used a completely different type of humor that the primarily one the podcast uses to such great effect.  In this episode Cecil is playing a tape he's discovered, one that apparently made when he was 15 and about to intern at the community radio station.  (OK, I guess the running joke about the unacknowledged pattern of what happens to interns is a second form of humor they often use.)  The episode takes advantage of the dramatic irony inherent in the situation, which is another form of humor they sometimes use, but that's not what impressed me.  In just a few seconds, they set up the expectation that they were about to make the same writing mistake I was talking about in a post six months ago, and then violate the expectation. Remember the tape was made years before — not that I know exactly how old the character is, or that if I knew I could subtract 15 from it and presume to know how much time had passed, this being Night Vale, but we can make a rough guess.

The joke is at about 15:50 to 16:00.  It's probably best to listen to it to get the full effect, but for those who don't feel like doing that, here's a transcript of the line:
[transcript of one line, punctuated to indicate the timing]"Oh.  My.  God.  My first day as intern was just... neat!"

So not only did they not make the mistake of forgetting that the language shifts over a few decades, and use the correct word for his time period after all, but I'm convinced they deliberately set up the joke by starting the sentence out in a style that sounded more like 2013.  I don't think the long pause was an accident either.


I do love this show.