Infinite Jest’s Killer Joke

Infinite Jest, page 490:

‘Funny as an impacted follicle, Rémy. And no doubt the insurgent cells are all each doing work of your own, you guys with your own Dr. Brullent or whomever, trying to find out what the Entertainment’s appeal could be without sacrificing any of your own.’ Steeply again turned; he did this for emphasis. ‘Or maybe you’re willingly sacrificing your own. Yes? Willing volunteers in chairs. Sacrificing self for the Greater and all that. By adult choice and all that. Just for the sake of causing us harm. Wouldn’t even want to think about how the A.F.R.’s conducting tests of the thing.’

‘C’est ça.’

‘But not so much for content,’ Steeply said. ‘Input/Output’s exhaustive testing. Flatto’s got them working on conditions and environments for possible nonlethal viewing. Certain departments in Virginia, the developing theory is that it’s holography.’

This is from the section on pages 489 to 491, part of the ongoing conversation between Steeply in drag and Marathe in wheelchair.  And it reminded me very specifically of Monty Python’s Funniest Joke in the World:*

Was this the inspiration of The Entertainment in Infinite Jest?  Eh, probably not, but there are parts of Steeply and Marathe’s convos that suggest a very inspired Monthy Python-esque view of The Entertainment.  And the episode of Monty Python’s The Flying Circus this is from was entitled “Whither Canada?”

Huh, go figure.

Canelli, link this deadly joke/entertainment theme together with The Joker and The Watchmen’s The Comedian.  There’s definitely a connection to draw here between those characters, this sketch, and American culture.  I’m sure of it.

* I cannot believe there’s a wikipedia page about this skit!

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