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posted August 28, 2007
Guy Endore-Kaiser and Rodd Perry
Andrews McMeel, soft cover, 128 pages, September 2007, $12.95
I know that the thing that you're supposed to do with the one-panel strips that have followed in the wake of the monolithic Far Side
is to slam them automatically for not exhibiting the specific writing genius and strange, squirrelly qualities that made Gary Larson's feature a signature newspaper comic of the second half of the 20th Century. However, if one were to apply that standard to, say, stand-up comedy, you could watch one of the better Bob Hope films and listen to That Nigger's Crazy
and safely wash your hands of 98 percent of everything that's come since. That's a lot of laughs to leave on the table.
I think the telling factor with Brevity
is that Guy & Rodd, a cartooning team that sounds like a country-western act, put on their cover a gag featuring old people instead of a parody of a popular style or a proclamation of their pop culture-soaked wackiness or even a panel featuring some take on a dubiously relevant, recent piece of entertainment news. Their feature has a workman-like charm along those same lines, and as their craft improves, you start to see fewer mouthful-type rambles through something weird and more sharply staged, to the point, hits. I really liked a tennis joke that involved not just a guy watching the opposite direction of the crowd following the ball, but a woman focused on that man, smitten with his oddball ways. In other words, I like some of their gags, and I like the fact they're focused on the gags, and they're clearly becoming better at presenting them. Sometimes you want to leave the fringe festival and its perfomers' admittedly admirable destruction of tropes and see a guy in a tie come out on a stage and present solid material in a 20-minute set.