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Is this event ironic or a funny coincidence: (explain why as well)

Bob is walking with Jerry outside after it has just finished raining. Bob starts on about this time some "stupid, aloof" guy walked right into a puddle because he wasn't paying attention. Right as he is finishing the story, he himself walks directly into a puddle of water.

A buddy and I were debating whether that's irony or funny coincidence, so we decided to poll the audience to get some clarity on the issue.

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6 Answers 6

I believe “[situational] irony” may be used to describe this event. From Dictionary.com:

[n] irony involving a situation in which actions have an effect that is opposite from what was intended, so that the outcome is contrary to what was expected.

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I don't see what you're referring to as the "opposite" happening in that example. What are you seeing that I'm not? –  Kristina Lopez Dec 4 '13 at 21:44
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@Kristina - The guy intended to differentiate himself as smug-superior, but quite the 'opposite' happened; it seems to me. –  ipso Dec 4 '13 at 21:49
    
ok, I see that. I was going for the obvious irony in my answer . . . about talking about a puddle-stepping then stepping in one himself. –  Kristina Lopez Dec 4 '13 at 21:54
    
@Ipso - That's kind of what I was thinking originally, but my friend suggests that the character's intentions can't be inferred from his ridicule. He says, "the preacher that sins does not create irony except when the audience knows his intentions OR when the narrative instills one expectation in the audience but in fact follows through with the opposite." –  Paradox Dec 4 '13 at 22:11
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@Paradox - I believe the character's intentions can absolutely be inferred from his ridicule – – but if you really want to irritate your friend, start calling anything even remotely funny, "ironical" : ) –  ipso Dec 4 '13 at 22:48

Yes, this is a very good example of irony. I'd also like to get on my soapbox and point out that it is also a great example of "Poetic Justice" (a term I see misunderstood and misused all the time). Bob was speaking fairly unkindly about the person in his story and when the events in his story happened to him almost immediately, the situation has a poetry about it. By stepping in a puddle himself, Bob is taught a lesson.

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When I read this my sense is this is a funny coincidence rather than ironic.

Bob is walking with Jerry outside after it has just finished raining. Bob starts on about this time some "stupid, aloof" guy walked right into a puddle because he wasn't paying attention. Right as he is finishing the story, he himself walks directly into a puddle of water.

The reason being that while the person conveying the story is described as "stupid, aloof", the tone of the story itself doesn’t indicate the person telling the story is aloof or stupid past that.

To me, it would seem ironic if the last sentence read:

“That guy was sure stupid & aloof!” he said just as he himself walks directly into a puddle of water.

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So does irony depend on the way the writer or rhetor frames the telling of the event and not on just what happens plainly? –  Paradox Dec 4 '13 at 21:36
    
In my mind, irony is when something happens that is the opposite of what is expected. There is no inherent expectation in what is described. It’s simply a “funny coincidence.” Also, how is the guy telling the story stupid or aloof? It just seems like someone telling a story & something happening. –  JakeGould Dec 4 '13 at 21:45

I'd say it's both.

The expectation is that Bob wouldn't be as stupid and aloof as the person he's criticizing for walking into a puddle of water. This expectation is violated in the opposite way by Bob himself walking into a puddle of water, creating irony.

Additionally, two instances of "walking into a puddle of water" happen at once (one in speech and one in happening), creating coincidence.

Hence, it has both the elements of irony and coincidence. As Bill Watterson once said in a Calvin and Hobbes strip dealing with much the same issue, it's an ironic coincidence.

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+1 for Calvin and Hobbes reference! :-) –  Kristina Lopez Dec 4 '13 at 21:55

Coincidentally, Bob stepped in a puddle while telling the story of another puddle-stepper. Now if Bob had been explaining to Jerry what this third party should have done to avoid the puddle (i.e. pay attention), and then stepped in it himself, that would be ironic. Bob's actions directly contradict the point his story, ironically, in that case. But if he just happens to step in a puddle while talking about another puddle, there's no contradiction, just two unrelated, yet similar incidents.

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I'd call that ironic. He's talking about a guy (regardless of that guy's personality) walking into a puddle of water, then he himself does it. Actually, I don't see why it can't also be a funny coincidence, IMO.

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