Deep Thoughts on “Deep Thoughts about ‘Deep Thoughts'”


“Sometimes I think you have to march right in and demand your rights, even if you don’t know what your rights are, or who the person is you’re talking to. Then, on the way out, slam the door.”  – Jack Handey

For years I laughed at Jack Handey’s inane musings on Saturday Night Live, all the while thinking he was a character created for the show.

Not so; he’s real.

Not only does he live and breathe; some people take him semi-seriously. Recently, a friend forwarded an essay to me from the New York Times:  “And Now, Deep Thoughts About ‘Deep Thoughts.” In it, Kathleen Rooney asserts that Jack Handey is the perfect exemplar of contemporary poetic thought. Say what?

I swear I’m not making this up. It’s an engaging read, and the comments are worth a squiz as well (including this one: “I googled myself and decided this is not a person I want to know.” ).

Though I understand the author’s point, I agree with one of her critics. The author has conflated wit and poetry, which–though not mutually exclusive–are definitely not the same thing.

Here’s what I do know, though. Every time I read one particular sentence of his, I think about how absolutely flawless it is:

“The face of a child can say it all, especially the mouth part of the face.”