Infinite Jest and Monty Python
When I first read IJ the concept of a lethally-entertaining Entertainment rung a bell somewhere way back in my mind, but I didn’t get around to digging it up until today. And that rung bell turned out to be the Monty Python skit entitled “The World’s Funniest Joke,”* in which a writer pens a lethally funny joke that kills him and everyone else who reads it. I did some digging around the interwebs and didn’t see a whole lot of discussion relating The Entertainment to The World’s Funniest Joke, but the parallels are mind-blowing and obvious, right down to the little humorous vignettes in the beginning of IJ showing more and more people becoming ensnared in the video sent to the Near-Eastern medical attaché. And, holy crap I just realized this — the whole schtick involving British and German forces in World War II researching ways to make a weapon of the joke, which has a close parallel in the AFR’s alleged attempts to unleash The Entertainment on the American public and the OUS’s efforts to thwart them.
IIRC a lot of the humor in IJ, particularly some of the oddball situations, struck me as having a heavy indebtedness to Monty Python. Anyone know if Wallace was a Monty Python fan?
* Note that two different versions of the skit exist: the one above and the one shown here.