Well, is it? I'm confused. Colin Jost has written for the Shouts & Murmurs humor section of the New Yorker before, to excessively mediocre effect ("What do you mean, 'stereotype'? I have no idea what type of stereo I own. Wait, I do. Bang & Olufsen"), but this latest piece, called "I Will Slap You," is a new and confounding plateau of mediocrity. Here's how it starts:
You heard me.
Yeah, you. I will slap you.
You want to look at me like that?
I'll slap you so hard you're gonna wish I hadn't. I'll slap you so hard you're gonna be, like, "Don't."
And you? I'll slap you, too. I'll slap you right in the face.
Or the neck. Depends on how tall you are when you stand up.
'Cause I'm five-three, baby. Five slaps in three seconds.
That's right. I'll slap you so fast you won't even know what hit you.
I mean, you'll have a pretty good idea. Because I told you in advance. But you'll also be distracted by—what's that?—a second slap.
This time with the back of my hand.
If you can brave the mild Yacubian winds of this landscape and trudge a mile further, you will arrive here at the place of resolute insipidity:
I'll slap you and that wheelchair you rode in . . . in. Then I'll slap you right out of that wheelchair.
'Cause you can walk now. Praise Him.
But you? You're not so lucky.
'Cause I'm gonna slap you silly. Then I'm gonna slap you slowly, and seriously.
Like a tearful caress.
Remember what we used to be?
You will be shocked to hear that, at the finish line, the narrator is himself... slapped.
I guess that's the joke?
Shouts & Murmurs has had some good ones lately ("Stop it. You're fine. I, on the other hand, am seriously Vermont's heroin epidemic multiplied by Bill Cosby"), and the problem here is not the subject matter, because slaps can be both hilarious (see here and here) and creatively fertile (see "The Slap," my favorite story in Steven Millhauser's excellent collection We Others). This, however, is a nadir for everyone involved.
Image via AP.