Picture the following scene in your mind:
You have no money in your pocket and you are
standing by the bank.
Got the picture so far? OK, continue:
Now you rake your fishing pole and cast out
over the bank into the river.
SURPRISE! Odds are that you interpreted
the word "bank" as a building with a vault inside. You
were set up for that interpretation by reading the word
"money". The old noggin figured it meant a money bank
instead of a riverbank for two reasons. First, unless
you're Tom Sawyer you probably stand around money banks more
than riverbanks. Second, because money was mentioned
the context pointed towards a money bank.
Naturally, all this information is processed
up in your noodle so fast that you just take it all for
granted. But those instances where your memory banks
(aha, yet another "bank") lead you down the wrong path are
very important. Why? Because a lot of humor
depends on that mental tickle you experience when you
discover you were on the wrong path. Comedians often
try to surprise you with an new or unexpected meaning to an
old familiar phrase. When Henny Youngman says, "People
are strange, take my wife...please TAKE my wife", he makes
you think of an old phrase in new terms. You can't
help it, it's so automatic you'd be more successful trying
not to think of the meaning of words you hear or see.
Anyway, conundrums often activate that automatic comparison
in your head, and this book uses pictures to supply the
novel meaning. So get ready to have your train of
thought derailed with some antic semantics and prepare to
read the wit in the written word. You may have to
think twice, but you will literally see what I mean.
B. Jay Martin