Woody Allen’s Mr. Big

In “Mr. Big,” a girl who pretends to be a nude model comes into the private investigator’s office. The girl is actually a philosophy major at Vassar, studying the history of Western thought. What is interesting about this and Woody Allen’s other stories is that they tend to set up or create a predicament in order to reveal the actual absurdity of everyday existence. For example, in this story, Heather wants the private investigator’s help in finding God so that she can turn in a non-speculative paper, pass the course, and get the Mercedes that her father promised her. The situation that the private investigator finds himself in is the artificial absurdity that is created in order to illustrate and reveal the actual absurdity of finding God. Once the setting is created, Woody Allen allows the natural absurdity to reveal itself. For example, the private investigator takes Heather to his first lead, Rabbi Wiseman who owes him the favor for rubbing pork off his hat. Rabbi Wiseman admits that though he’s never seen God (not unusual because he’s lucky to even see his grandchildren), he believes in him because his existence makes the Rabbi’s lifestyle possible. “Could I get a suit like this for $14 if there was no one up there?” Besides making the reader laugh, the Rabbi’s well-supported argument uncovers the already existing absurdity that is everyday life.

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Woody Allen’s The Whore of Mensa

The narrator of “The Whore of Mensa” is a private investigator who is approached by a man in distress who doesn’t want his secret revealed his wife. Apparently, he’s been paying a young girl to come over and discuss intellectual subjects with him. This story satirizes married men who get prostitutes for sexual gratification. Just like men with wives who are either unwilling or unable to fulfill them sexually, the husband in this story is married to a woman who is unwilling or unable to fulfill him intellectually. The man’s wife isn’t intellectually experienced enough to discuss Ezra Pound or T.S. Eliot so he makes up for it with a whore with “quick intellectual experience” who leaves after the discussion is over. Besides ridiculing contemporary society for its lack of intellectual vitality, the story also draws comparisons between two types of stagnant marriages, those with little or no sexual activity and those with little or no intellectual activity. As a result, Woody Allen’s story is absurd and hilarious because it is an inversion of the typical reason why unfulfilled married men seek companionship with prostitutes.