Even though this is a reread and I’ve posted about some of the books in this series, I haven’t actually reviewed Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging on the blog. But I want to talk about comedy in this post, so I’ll leave the review to this:
It’s funny, it’s charming, and it’s one of my go-to books when I’m having a terrible, terrible day. Seriously, Georgia’s boy-chasing antics and the full cast of quirky characters make this one of my all-time favorite series.
Now that you know how much I love it, I want to talk about one aspect of comedy, because it is something done so well in this book… Comedy is setting up the joke and then delivering the unexpected. This doesn’t mean that if you want to be funny, you should fill your writing with non-sequiturs, although they do have a place (how funny is the comic Non Sequitur? Very).
Take this example from the very beginning of the book, where melancholy Georgia lists all of the tragedies of her teenage life.
There are six things very wrong with my life:
(1) I have one of those under-the-skin spots that will never come to a head but lurk in a red way for the next two years.
(2) It is on my nose.
(3) I have a three-year-old sister who may have peed somewhere in my room.
(4) In fourteen days the summer hols will be over and then it will be back to Stalag 14 and Oberfuher Frau Simpson and her bunch of sadistic “teachers”.
(5) I am very ugly and need to go into an ugly home.
(6) I went to a party dressed as a stuffed olive.
This passage is funny from the very beginning. Note the timing at the very beginning in points one and two. In point three, a child peeing in a hidden corner is funnier and more unexpected than a pet. I love the way Georgia is over-dramatic about school in point four, which allows point five to be funny. We know she exaggerates and is moody so the fact that she is so ugly she needs to go to an ugly home is hilarious in a way it couldn’t be if we thought it might be true even in the slightest.
But point six is the part that gets me every time. It’s so unexpected and matter of fact. It’s calls to mind memories of surreal moments where you can not believe that. just. happened. And because I’ve had so many moments like that, I’m instantly connected to Georgia and want to know more about her most embarrassing moment ever. Rennison makes us wait a few pages for it and by then I’m so curious about the whole thing that it’s even funnier than it would have been if I hadn’t read that one sentence first.
Another example of where Rennison makes me laugh by delivering the unexpected is on page 145 (in my 1999 paperback edition). Fyi… Angus is Georgia’s HUGE cat who is half Scottish wildcat.
Gym. Discovered Angus had stored his afternoon snack in my rucksack. There are hedgehog quills in my sports knickers.
Again. It starts out funny. We get this image of Georgia grossed out by a dead animal in her gymbag while she’s trying to change for gym. Then we find out it was a hedgehog and there are quills stuck in the knickers she has to wear. It is unexpected and takes the humor to the next level.
Those are the only two examples I’m going to use, because I’m afraid I made them unfunny, but this was exactly the reminder I needed while working on my current project. Also, the cover shown is my favorite incarnation of covers for this series. I couldn’t find it on amazon (I lent mine to a friend over a year ago), so I’m stuck with a more muted cover that is just not as cool. I will have to scavenge at Borders.
Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging counts toward the following challenges: Read Me Baby One More Time, 100+, and 7 books in a series for the Hogwarts Reading Challenge. Track my progress at my 2011 Reading Challenges Page.