“One is the most innovative writer of the 20th century,” goes the opening sentence to the introduction to the “James Joyce or Kool Keith?” Web quiz, the latest creation of comedy writer Hudson Hongo. “The other is James Joyce.”
A lot of people will likely approach the quiz in a LOL-intensive way because, let’s face it, a lot of people can only enjoy eccentric black entertainers in an ironic fashion (*). But Hongo’s quiz is cleverer than it initially lets on. Joyce and Keith actually have a lot more in common than you may realize: Both delight in taking apart the English language and playing with its guts. Both relish wordplay and potty humor in roughly equal measure, so that their work creates fantastically intricate puzzle boxes that often turn out, after extensive unraveling, to be elaborate fart jokes. Both, I believe, have worn eye patches in public. And last but certainly not least, both love women’s asses so, so very much.
If you think it’s ridiculous to compare Kool Keith’s writing to James Joyce’s, take the quiz and see how easily you can tell the two apart. I’m not only a huge Kool Keith fan but also a world-record contender for “most times reading just the first 200 pages of Ulysses,” and I still got three out of ten wrong.