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Monday, January 15, 2007

Alanis Morissette Doesn't Get Irony

Guy Kawasaki interviews Jon Winokur [Ten Questions with Jon Winokur: How to Heighten Your Sense of the Absurd]. In response to a question about what he's working on now (Q12) Winokur say he's writing a book called The Big Curmudgeon. Winokur then goes ont to say,
It drives me crazy when people say “ironic” when they mean “coincidental.” The classic example is Morissettian Irony, which I define in the book as “irony based on a misapprehension of irony, i.e., no irony at all.” It’s named for the pop singer Alanis Morissette, whose hit single, “Ironic” mislabels coincidence and inconvenience as irony.

In the song, situations purporting to be ironic are merely sad, random, or annoying (“It's a traffic jam when you're already late/It's a no-smoking sign on your cigarette break”). In other words, “Ironic” is an un-ironic song about irony. Which, of course, is ironic in itself. But wait, there’s more, a “bonus irony” if you will: “Ironic” has been cited as an example of how Americans don’t get irony, despite the fact that Alanis Morissette is Canadian!
I hate it when people don't get irony ... or sarcasm.

[To see the video, go to Alanis Morissette, click on "music" then on "ironic" at the bottom, third from the left.]

[Hat Tip: Jim Lippard]

[Photo Credit: Agência Brasil disponibiliza, gratuitamente, imagens e fotos. Para cumprir a legislação em vigor, solicitamos aos nossos usuários a gentileza de registrar os créditos como no exemplo: nome do fotógrafo—via Wikipedia.]


  1. I have read a number of articles stating that the song is titled "Isn't It Ironic?" because none of the situations are actually ironic. I don't know if this is real, or if it's just Alanis and her PR agents trying to make a mistake look like a clever statement.

  2. Jagged little pill (aka self-titled album) was nonetheless a great album. So whatever happened to Ms. Morissette? Is she still alive, or did she choke on her own vomit like so many other stars?

    BTW, Alanis is supposedly now a U.S. citizen

  3. Here in Budapest, Hungary, irony is a somewhat hidden mother tongue of many people (I consider myself being one of them, although thereare times I plan to get rid of that lingo). Isn't it ironic that Alanis, who is a singer without any serious irony or humour is singing a song about irony?

  4. There are like a million articles about this! The irony of the song is that there is NO irony in it. Not once. Thus its ironic that a song called "Isn't it ironic" has NO irony in it. If you listen to the genius on her lyrics of the other songs you'll see it follows the trend.