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Figaro rips the innards out of things people say and reveals the rhetorical tricks and pratfalls. For terms and definitions, click here.
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    The Show Moved Me -- Far from the Television

    starter_wife.jpgQuote:  “Having watched an advance DVD of the first three hours, I can offer a mini-review:  two thumbs up.  Up my own eye sockets.”  Seth Stevenson in Slate.

    Figure of Speech:  paraprosdokian (para-prose-DOKE-ian), the surprise-ending figure.

    “The Starter Wife,” a mini-series on the USA Network, is about a 40-something woman who gets dumped.  Seth Stevenson is an admitted man, and therefore completely unqualified to review a middle-age chick flick.  As if to emphasize his Y chromosome, he pulls a rhetorical Three Stooges move with a paraprosdokian. The figure hits the audience with an unexpected ending to a series, phrase, or cliché.

    It’s not a hard figure to pull off.  Just take a cliché and twist the ending.  The writer Rose Macaulay was a master of paraprosdokian.  “It was a book to kill time,” she wrote, “for those who like it better dead.”

    Snappy Answer:  “Nyuck, nyuck.” 

    For more cool ways to twist a cliché, see page 213 of Figaro’s book.

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    Reader Comments (4)

    Or Dorothy Parker's famous paraprosdokian: "This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly -- it is to be thrown with great force!"
    June 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSofia
    Or Homer Simpson's: “This gun had a hold on me. I felt this incredible surge of power, like God must feel when he’s holding a gun.”
    June 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Actually, "The Simpsons" humor relies a lot on the paraprosdokian:

    Lisa: Solitude never hurt anyone. Emily Dickinson lived alone, and she wrote some of the most beautiful poetry the world has ever known... then went crazy as a loon.
    June 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    The first thing to come to mind when I read that title was "Let's just say it moved me --TO A BIGGER HOUSE!"
    June 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSydney J. Carton

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