Garry Trudeau

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Nora Ephron

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Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 415

I am not one of those who believe that there is nothing to laugh at about the women's movement; in fact, there is plenty to laugh about without in any way putting down the movement, and I become downright irritable when I read lengthy feminist tracts justifying the women's movement's lack of a sense of humor. "How can we laugh when we're so oppressed?" That kind of thing. It seems to be that the exact opposite is true: how can we not laugh when we're so oppressed. (p. 93)

In any case, the women's movement has spawned very little humor—much less any humor that amuses me. And Joanie Caucus hardly seemed a likely candidate; she was, after all, the creation of a man. Then I started reading "Doonesbury," and there was Joanie, the runaway wife, the day-care center supervisor, the law school applicant, the newly-single woman coping with passes from a hip priest with hot tickets to a Jeb Magruder concert, and I began to roar.

There is nothing more hopeless than attempting to explain why something is funny…. I have no idea why she is funny. I just know she kills me…. It's not just that I know women like her and that I'm a little like her myself. It's not just that my friends constantly tell me stories about trying to bring the movement to their children, stories that are remarkably like the episodes in this book. It's also that there is something about what she looks like and the way she behaves—so downtrodden and yet plucky, so saggy and yet upright, so droopy-eyed and yet wide awake, so pessimistic and yet deepdown slyly sure that she's on the right track. I don't want to take this too seriously, but she seems such a perfect, sympathetic mirror-image of all of us who are trying to make sense out of the contradictions, trying to assimilate all the new information and ideas and theories into our messy lives and minds. It's not easy, folks—and I love that Joanie makes it look so hard. It's occasionally absurd and ridiculous—and I love that she makes it look so funny. It seems to me that this book provides a perfect, absolutely painless way for parents to introduce some of these ideas to their children. (pp. 94-5)

Nora Ephron, in her afterword to Joanie by Garry Trudeau (copyright © 1974 by G. B. Trudeau; reprinted with permission from Andrews and McMeel, Inc.), Sheed and Ward, Inc., 1974, pp. 93-5.

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