Picks and Pans Review: Separated at Birth?
updated 11/28/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 11/28/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST
Spy, until recently largely a New York City phenomenon, is a satirical monthly that at times suggests a class brats' edition of My Weekly Reader. Spy's "Separated at Birth?" feature, which has been a regular part of the magazine since its third issue in December 1986, is about as irrelevant and pointless as you can get and still be in this solar system; it is also often very funny. The gimmick is to place side-by-side similar pictures of two famous people who happen to look a lot alike, and the more incongruous the juxtaposition, the better; the mystery is why it should seem funny to see, say, David Bowie and Geraldine Ferraro looking as if they might really be long-lost twins. But somehow it is. The humor loses a little when one of the faces is not recognizable. Let's see a show of hands of those who would know, for example, former UNESCO chief Amadou-Mahtar M'Bow from former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone. The humor loses a lot more when both faces—poet Joseph Brodsky and English politician Neil Kinnock, for example—are obscure. There's also a suggestion of desperation in trying to get laughs out of photographs of such murderers as James Earl Ray, Charles Manson, Richard Speck and Lee Harvey Oswald. Those whose boundaries of good taste are relatively elastic, however, will find a lot to enjoy, with little stress on the attention span and none of those troublesome afterthoughts. (Dolphin/Doubleday, paper, $6.95)