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You've Got to Be Kidding : Sarcastics Anonymous: It's Great Idea, Eh?

December 06, 1987|DAVE CARPENTER | Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Here's some absolutely fascinating news: A former college professor turned humor consultant is promoting a group for wisecrackers called Sarcastics Anonymous.

Yeah, it's a real important organization.

Virginia Tooper of Pleasanton, Calif., says a comedian hatched a similar idea years ago, but "he's dead now." So she decided to found her own group dedicated to the advancement of sneering remarks.

This year, three years after quietly establishing Sarcastics Anonymous as a fertile source of jokes for her seminars and speeches, Tooper has decided to bring the organization out of the closet.

"There's Overeaters Anonymous, Messies Anonymous, even Procrastinators Anonymous--they're working on plans for their 1982 convention right now. Why not Sarcastics Anonymous?" she asked.

Sarcasm, she said, has become more cutting than ever judging by the response of her audiences and 300 card-carrying members of SA nationwide. Members get a card, newsletter and an enamel pin for joining, and local members meet in comedy clubs because "they serve drinks there," she quipped.

Sarcastics of the world can be divided into three groups, according to Tooper: those who have been blatantly sarcastic and are "trying to take it one day at a time," those who revel in their sarcasm, and "sarc-anons" who have to live and work with sarcastics.

Tooper puts herself in the first group, while acknowledging that sarcasm is good in limited doses.

"I'm a recovering sarcastic," she said with no lack of irony. "But once a sarcastic, always a sarcastic. You can only hope to keep it under control."

Oh, great. Fabulous advice.

The humor consultant said she was raised in a cold, humorless family and had the kind of painful childhood that sarcastic personalities often are founded upon.

Badly in need of humor and warmth, she developed sarcasm to get a laugh and use as a weapon against those who poked fun of her for being fat. It was effective, but it also led her to the conclusion that you have to be careful how you employ it or you'll lose your friends.

"For three straight summers in Girl Scout camp, I was voted the wittiest and the biggest dumb bunny," she said. "The fourth year I quit."

Tooper went on to get a doctorate in special education and counselor education, and taught those subjects at San Jose State University before leaving in 1979. In her 50s now and based in Pleasanton, 35 miles east of San Francisco, she lectures to corporations, organizations and colleges on the uses of humor on and off the job.

Marriages can be destroyed by sarcasm, she cautioned, but hers incorporates it.

Her husband, Edward, an engineer, is himself a master of irony. Disgruntled with her cooking, she said, he once spray-painted some of her freshly cooked meatballs gold and hung them on the Christmas tree.

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