Calvin Trillin’s In-Flight Gourmand Picnic

Calvin Trillin’s In-Flight Gourmand Picnic

Trillin’s joke about his “no-frills picnic” while en route from New York to Miami is a tongue-in-cheek report of the consequences of his wife Alice’s frugality that he calls “Law of Compensatory Cashflow.” Because Trillin always (almost) defers to Alice’s superior...
Gwen Raverat’s Period Piece Picnics

Gwen Raverat’s Period Piece Picnics

“Heroic Survivors of the Picnic.” is Gwen Raverat’s bittersweet memory of a miserable picnic. It’s the next-to-last anecdote in her memoir Period Piece: A Cambridge Childhood. I think she means to suggest that life was no picnic, but that she has no remorse. Despite...
A.T. Smith’s  Picnic Fiasco “Slicing the Wasps”

A.T. Smith’s Picnic Fiasco “Slicing the Wasps”

The humor of Smith’s picnic fiasco “Slicing the Wasps” is obvious. The legend reads: “Suitable for both sexes, young and old. Fascinating, amusing, skillful exciting, and with that element of danger.” It’s also an allusion to  to...
The Marx Brothers’ Picnic in a Barn

The Marx Brothers’ Picnic in a Barn

The plot of Monkey Business is fluff. It begins with the Marx brothers hiding in kippered herring barrels on a transatlantic liner crossing to New York. The narrative ends in barn (whereabouts unknown) in which Groucho and Chico picnic in a hay pile. Zeppo Marx is in...
Satie’s Le Pique-Nique

Satie’s Le Pique-Nique

“Le Pique-nique,” a piano composition about 30 seconds long, is one of twenty-one very short musical interpretations in Sports et Divertissement [Sports & Entertainments] devoted to the happiness of people at play. Satie’s preface ­explains that two artistic...
Jean Renoir’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe

Jean Renoir’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe

Renoir’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe [released in English as Picnic on the Grass] is a satiric jab at Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave New World and Greek myth. By contrasting two picnics, Renoir suggests that sexless scientific rationality is no match for inherent human...
O’Brien’s Ants

O’Brien’s Ants

Ants at a picnic always serve for picnic humor not because they have interrupted picnics but because it is cute to presume that they do. But who is really bothered by ants? John O’Brien achieves stasis in “Ants at a Picnic”: his picnickers and ants below them are...
Colwin’s Picnics

Colwin’s Picnics

Family Happiness is Laurie Colwin’s comic tale about a East Manhattan Jewish housewife, who finds happiness at home and in a picnic in bed with her lover. On the way to her first tryst, Polly Demarest stops to pick up a smoked salmon sandwich. Alone and excited, they...
Robinson’s Zoo Picnic

Robinson’s Zoo Picnic

The zany humor of “Just a Picnic at Whipsnade” is Heath Robinson’s trademark. Of the two picnics here, the lion has got the better deal. It also helps knowing that Whipsnade is England’s biggest zoo, near Luton, an hour and twenty minutes north of London. Featured...