I think a lot about comedy, and I sometimes use this space to think out loud about gag writing, as it relates to a particular strip. This one got me thinking about one of the elements I think sets my comic style apart from most: respect for the victim.
The Confederates are the butt of the joke here, no doubt about it. Some unseen Union infiltrator is mocking them, a joke between the sides of a grim and deadly conflict. But just because the joke is on them does not mean these characters are clowns. They maintain a great dignity, which I hope actually makes it funnier.
Now, I am a Yankee to the bone, so mocking Confederate soldiers mercilessly should be as easy for me as Mel Brooks writing “Springtime for Hitler.” But I think that a joke has to resonate with real life to be really funny. I don’t laugh at the Three Stooges much. I’ll take the Cheese Shop sketch over the Gumby sketches, and Blackadder over Bean. In real life, buffoon characters are not nearly as common (or as funny) as people who are simply trying to maintain their dignity as things don’t go the way they planned.
Which is why my life would be hilarious if it weren’t happening to me.