American Psycho (first half)–Group 4

American Psycho is, at least in part, a parody of the manners of affluent young professionals in NYC. What is one moment you found funny and why? If you found not a single moment amusing, why do you think that is? A failure in the novel? Your incapacity to see the humor? The general offensiveness of much of the language and people in the book?

5 thoughts on “American Psycho (first half)–Group 4

  1. Jacob Morton

    I marked each time I had a genuine laugh–chuckled out loud. The first real one occured on page 18 when Price recounts the last time he met Evelyn’s friend, Stash. “‘Oh yes he was, but his name wasn’t Stash last time. It was Horseshoe or Magnet or Lego or something equally adult,’ Price sneers.” Not the pinnacle of humor, sure–not even a phenomenal representation of satire. It is more of an insult–a clever condescension–than a joke, and yet something about it struck a funny bone. Up until now Price is consistently obnoxious and downright deplorable; his character is even less likable than Patrick. He is an almost archetypically vile yuppie. All of this is to say, he’s not someone I’d generally find easy to laugh with. He’d likely patronize me as he does Stash. And yet Stash too archetypically embodies a New York subculture. It’s less that he exemplifies it–more so that he fills a void. The New York artsy-fartsy crowd is similarly obnoxious to me–but also far easier to make fun of. It’s an easier target than 80s yuppies–especially when it’s often those same yuppies who have an even quicker and scathing one-liner primed and ready in their holster. For this one sentence, I felt like I was hanging out with Price, collectively making fun of the arts crowd and their ridiculous nicknames. On the other hand, had it been Stash telling a sharp, roasting joke about Price behind his back, I’d likely be on his side instead.

  2. Alexander Merrill

    A funny moment that stood out to me near the beginning of the novel was when Bateman and his friends are eating and comparing business cards. They are going back and forth objectifying women and making homophobic comments when Bateman whips out his new business card and wallet in an attempt to one-up McDermott for having such a good relationship with the high end restaurant they are dining in. This takes them into a game of one-up-manship, flashing their business cards and admiring their beautiful color and lettering. The way they talk about them is similar to the way in which they speak about women – and even worse, they seem to speak about the cards with more respect and admiration than any women they talk about. I find Bateman and his friends’ back and forth to be so absurd and trivial, while also giving the subject matter as much or more respect than just about anything else they speak about, that I can’t help but laugh – no matter how disturbing this is – at how deep into their own twisted echo chamber they must be for this kind of conversation to take place.

  3. Rachel Horowitz-Benoit

    I found several moments funny, and this is mostly due to Bret Easton Ellis’s way with words, particularly nasty ones. When Bateman isn’t relying on slurs, misogyny, and racism, he has a way with insults. However, a lot of these insults are still hurled down, so while I thought it was funny to call someone as interesting as an ice bucket, the fact that it was levied at Bateman’s vapid, stereotypical bimbo of a girlfriend, Evelyn, means it reeks of misogyny. In these moments, it feels like we’re identifying with Bateman, because he sounds clever and she responds, “Is that… Ivana Trump?”

    In contrast, some of the really funny moments to me were when we see through Bateman’s persona. A part of the book that made me laugh out loud was on page 85 and 86 of my copy, when Bateman drops a dollar bill into the cup of who he assumes is a homeless girl, only to realize it’s a student, and he’s dropped a dollar into her coffee. The moment with the coffee cup is genuinely funny because it comes at the expense of both Bateman and the Columbia student who dresses homeless, or whose outfit Bateman perceives as looking homeless. Bateman is furiously trying to show us how suave and manly and violent he is at all times, but small slip-ups and everyday conveniences present a much less “cool” vision of him. Here is Bateman, who is normally cruel to homeless people even when he gives them something, and he imagines himself with “eyes radiating sympathy,” giving her something “simple” and “kind,” and instead he has just put a dirty dollar bill in a Columbia student’s coffee. He then devolves into a cringing, stuttering mess. He has very few kind-intentioned moments, so to see this result was as satisfying as it was funny.

  4. Gordon Lewis

    One of my favorite moments in the novel so far (it appears in the movie too, if I remember correctly) is when Bateman and his colleagues are at Harry’s and are all chatting about various things such as their other co-workers’ choices of dress and where they’re going to eat.

    Preston brings the conversation back to Paul Owen, who we’ve been introduced to previously, where he mentions again that he’s “handling the Fisher account” and then begins a barrage of anti-Semitic comments. Bateman seemingly takes offense to this remark, and quite uncharacteristically calls Preston out for it while making other corrective comments like “You spin a dreidel, Preston, not a menorah.” and “Just cool it with the anti-Semitic remarks”.

    To me, this exchange between Bateman and his co-workers is so tongue-in-cheek ironic, considering before this conversation and for a long time after it, Bateman and many of his colleagues are perfectly fine making sexist or homophobic comments and jokes (although Bateman does find some of the more racist jokes problematic when done in a public setting where others may hear them), as well as making fun of and teasing the homeless population in the city.

    Bateman drawing this arbitrary line at anti-Semitism then quickly following it up with a homophobic joke or two shows how his thought process about discrimination and hate speech is less about right and wrong, and more about what’s “in vogue” at the time. At the height of the AIDS epidemic where there is a lot of fear surrounding LGBTQ people, it’s a lot more socially acceptable for Bateman and his colleagues to be openly homophobic than it is to be racist or anti-Semitic, which Bateman recognizes and adapts himself to. It’s pretty funny to me that a murderous, psychopathic man like Bateman, who has no problem with murder, mutilation, or violence, can at the same time be concerned with things like racism and anti-Semitism.

  5. Henry Mooers

    There is a moment in the novel where Bateman is eating Sorbet with a woman, and the two are discussing their respective interests. The conversation turns towards their professions, and Bateman says that he’s into ‘Murders and executions mostly.’ The woman, somewhat oddly, responds “Do you like it”, to which Bateman responds “Um… it depends. Why?”

    She says “Well, most guys I know who work in mergers and acquisitions don’t really like it.”

    It’s a funny play on words, but it fits the theme of the book perfectly; centering in on the cutthroat nature of young affluent professionals in new york. The goal of this is to likely demonstrate a subconscious association between the two professions. Either way, I think it speaks for itself.

Leave a Reply