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    « Which Meme Won the Debates? | Main | "He Should Be Ashimed" »

    Take My Opponent. Please.

    Obama and Romney brought the finest political jokes money can buy to the Alfred E. Smith dinner, a fundraising roast given by New York Catholics every four years. Romney delivered one of our favorites, using the Surprise Ending figure called paraprosdokian.

    President Obama and I are both very lucky to have one person who’s always in our corner, someone who we can lean on and someone who is a comforting presence without whom we wouldn’t be able to go another day. I have my beautiful wife, Ann; he has Bill Clinton.

    Figure of Speech:  paraprosdokian (pah rah proze DOKE ee an), the unexpected ending. 

    Hard as it is to pronounce, the paraprosdokian can give you instant wit.  Start with a banal clause or cliche and end with a surprise. You’ll more figurative surprises here.  For more cool ways to twist a cliché, see page 213 of Thank You for Arguing.

    Both sides scored political points but nobody seemed to care who “won.” Which makes us wonder: Why not require all the debates to be funny?

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    Reader Comments (2)

    That was a cute line. What about Obama's "I wish I could use my middle name" or "I went shopping IN stores, Romney went shopping FOR stores"? What figure are those?

    Humor is a great rhetorical tool - and weapon. Maybe we should just let Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert run the debate. Or be the debaters.
    October 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavid
    Romney also brought up the straw man argument, Big Bird. Hilarious stuff.
    October 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris

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