The USS Quad Damage

The real irony

There's an old joke that the Alanis Morissette song "Ironic" is anything but. I'm here to defend the poor girl.

If you asked anyone about the old Alanis Morissette song “Ironic” you’ll find two groups of people. The first will say “what the hell you talkin' 'bout Gramps?”, the second will say “yeah, if you listen to it nothing in the song's ironic at all”. There was a stand up comedian who made this joke a long time ago — where he quotes certain parts of the song, then after the line “isn't it ironic”, complete with an incredulous look, talks about how no it’s not ironic.

I believe that comic was either lying — and has caused an entire generation to believe him — or was an idiot. Here I will try and defend Alanis:

An old man turned ninety-eight
He won the lottery and died the next day

According to Wikipedia: cosmic irony is disparity between human desires and the harsh realities. The old man gets all he wants (Birthday, lottery — human desires) but then it is taken away from him (he dies — harsh reality). Also according to Wikipedia, according to some definitions, cosmic and situational irony is not irony at all. However, we still have the concept that a man can reach an age milestone — a long life of 98 years, but then dies “the next day”, something which makes life seem fleeting.

It’s a black fly in your Chardonnay

As the song goes on, it requires some embellishing. Chardonnay is white wine. A black fly is readily distinguishable in Chardonnay. If you’re buying Chardonnay you’re probably in an upmarket restaurant. This is a case of situational irony, where you expect (and indeed pay for) quality, but in this case you don’t necessarily get it. Further, if it was red wine, you may not have noticed. However, red-wine is more expensive / classy. That is, if you asked for a more expensive wine it may not be apparent that the quality of the product is not up to scratch.

It’s a death row pardon two minutes too late

I hope you’re getting the hang of this. Human desires and harsh realities — we want the guy on death row to be pardoned, but the system takes time to work, and it can be late. Also, ironically, justice is served, and yet it isn’t.

Isn’t it ironic... don’t you think?

I totally agree. Let’s rock out.

It’s like rain on your wedding day

Rain on your wedding day is meant to be a good sign for your marriage. However, rain on your wedding day is a bad thing. Ironically, in order to get a happy life, you need to be sad on the “most important day” of that life.

It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid

This is a metaphorical irony — Getting something for “free” (without effort) when that effort has already been expended. For example, getting into a law firm because your dad “knows a guy”, even though you’re the best lawyer on the planet. One might say “Ironically, he was not hired for his talent”.

It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take

It is nearly necessary that great gains will come when you don’t take someone’s “good” or “sensible” advice. I’m sure the Steve Jobs and Bill Gates of the world have at least one story where they’ve been told “don't start a business, it's risky as it is, especially not in computers -- the PC market is not going to take off.” Ironic when you look at it now.

Who would’ve thought ... it figures

Who indeed. I’ve covered the first verse and Chorus. I’m sure you can do the rest. The real irony here is that some comedian has got it in the heads of a million people that Alanis Morissette should look at a Dictionary, when really it’s his audience that need to be acquainted with said Dictionary.