Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Awhile back, when Heist was still a recent movie, there was a discussion about a joke from the movie on Ebert’s Answer Man Page. The joke is below, and Danny Devito’s great deliverance of the line is at least half of what makes it funny.

“Everybody needs money. That's why they call it money.”

After Ebert wrote favorably of the joke, he had a lot of people writing him, frustrated, complaining that the joke made no sense, and what did it mean. Ebert said that the joke didn’t have an explanation it was just funny.

I wrote to Ebert, and told him that there was an explanation of the joke:
David Ziegler
Grand Rapids MI

Comments: There is an explanation for the now infamous Danny Devito
line in Heist, and Derrida would have loved it.

The joke pretends that meanings create words, rather than words,
meaning. As if there are concepts out there that are just waiting for
the perfect word.

Or to explain it from a slightly different angle, it is as if the
meaning of the word "money" pre-existed itself.

Of course, to analyze a joke is to remove the possibility of laughter.
But just to show that the joke isn't complete nonsense, there you go.

Ebert wrote me back to say:
-----Original Message-----
From: Roger Ebert
Sent: Tuesday, March 19, 2002 9:53 PM
To: David Ziegler
Subject: Re: There is an explanation to the joke from Heist!

That Derrida. What a card. See the Answer Man this Sunday...


For a full discussion of the running thread about the Heist line, go here. Even the URL takes off on the joke.

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