What is Sarcasm and How it Works

Well, well, well! If it isn’t the crowd that watches way too much house, Welcome! You’ve come to the right place.

If you haven’t watched House MD, by the way, you really have no idea how delicious sarcasm can be to a bystander’s ears. But please don’t tell me you don’t know who chandler is because if you really don’t know, I think you’ve wandered here by sheer force of luck. But now that you’re here, you will leave a bit more educated about how to make people cry with your words.

What is Sarcasm

The word sarcasm comes from the greek word Sarkasmos which literally means “to tear flesh, bite the lip in rage, sneer”. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it!

It as defined by the all-knowing Wikipedia as ” a sharp, bitter, or cutting expression or remark; a bitter gibe or taunt”. When you cut open the metaphorical artery in your opponent’s brain with you’re acidic wit, you’ve been successful in being deliciously sarcastic. Sarcasm is different from good old humor as the driving force behind a sarcastic car is often feelings of contempt, mockery, and ridicule.  Think of sarcasm as the little angry brother of good humor who likes to play with cat heads. Too much?? Well, can you be more of a pansy?  (We’ll like to list the previous statement as an example of sarcasm, in our attempt to actively engage you in a sarcastic situation. We promise it’s just that!)

How Sarcasm works

The key to understanding sarcasm is understanding the underlying tone and the context. Mostly, sarcastic comments sound like the most obvious thing to be said in the said context. BUTT! Yes, there is a but here!

But, you have to know what the other person wants to say. For that, you have to be willing to let go of your ego. Sarcastic people can seem like very nice people when they’re very skilled in the art of sarcasm.

Example of Sarcasm

Let’s take an example, shall we? Suppose a friend of your’s comes to your house and you take him to your room. Your room is a mess but your friend says “What a lovely room and the placement of things is just genius by the way!”, You can tell here he’s obviously being sarcastic. But if you have a glass that you’ve cleaned but your friend notices an uncleaned spot that you don’t know is there, then his SARCASTIC comment “Hey I can REALLY see my spotless face in here!”, will seem to you as a compliment and you might even thank him for embarrassing yourself.  According to Wikipedia  “The distinctive quality of sarcasm is present in the spoken word and manifested chiefly by vocal inflection.”So keep your ears open with those you suspect of being sarcastic.

Sarcasm is very close to irony. The irony is a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often wryly amusing as a result. The difference between sarcasm and irony, however, rises from the fact that irony can be situational and if involving a character, unintentional. Sarcasm, on the other hand, requires intention.

Irony can be a cancer doctor telling a cancer patient that smoking is what caused his cancer and he’s dying as a result while smoking a cigarette himself. Sarcasm is him telling the patient “You are reaping the fruits of the years you spent nurturing your lungs with all that delicious smoke”. Although a doctor like that can only be found in a TV series like House MD.

Is sarcasm good? Sarcasm doesn’t always have to be dark. The effect is lightened by the fact that two people who know each other well and occasionally take a jibe at one another. For example, in the series Friends, there’s a scene where Chandler Bing is shaving and has the shaving cream all over his face. Joey, who is the roommate and also a very good friend of chandler’s, comes in and says “Hey. Shaving?” to which chandler Sarcastically replies “No, rabies”. In a way sarcasm helps you put your point on the table. In this sense, I will be happy to use it and receive it at the same time. 

If we are to look at the more raw and direct aspect of sarcasm, Dr. Gregory House from the series House M.D. just nails it. Here is one of the many sarcastic responses out of Gregory house’s medical kit.

The three team members of House’s team, Dr. Cameron, Dr. Foreman, and Dr. Robert Chase enter his office to inform him about a patient’s condition. The conversation goes something like this.

{Dr. Cameron, Dr. Foreman, and Dr. Robert Chase- (Speaking about patient’s condition) We’ve got rectal bleeding. Dr. House- What, all three of you?}

House is so casually sarcastic that people expect it out of him, just like chandler.  Sarcasm is without a doubt a great fun if you’re the one doing it or watching it. It’s seldom fun to be the victim. If sarcasm was a superpower, the most appropriate quote to go with it would be “With great power, comes great responsibility.”.

But we just love how real sarcasm can get sometimes. Now that you have a bit of understanding about what is what in sarcasm, we think you’re ready to mingle with those sarcastic people you were always afraid of approaching. After all, what can go wrong right?

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