Sociocultural allusions

An assignment for the Stanford students in the Language in the Comics course involved the Zippy the Pinhead cartoon on the brain here. The students didn’t like this cartoon; they didn’t understand it (well, Zippy specializes in the absurd). It turned out that at least part of the problem was that the students had no idea who Joan Rivers was. Once again, the necessity of background knowledge!

On Joan Rivers, from Wikipedia:

Joan Alexandra Molinsky (born June 8, 1933), known by her stage name Joan Rivers, is an American television personality, comedian, writer, film director, and actress. She is known for her ribald, depreciative style. Rivers’ comic style relies heavily on her ability to poke fun at herself and other Hollywood celebrities. Her long career spanning five decades has led to her becoming known as a comedy legend and icon, often being referred to as “The Queen of Comedy”.

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