Књиге и литература

Xavier Renegade Angel: Absurdist Comedy as a Master Class of Critical Irony and Humor

10. октобар 2023. Књиге и литература
1755 речи, ~8 минута читања


О аутору

Nemanja Kosić студент ОАС Англистике
Diary Ipad / Image by Edar from Pixabay




 Xavier Renegade Angel is an absurd comedy created by Vernon Chatman and John Lee. It follows Xavier, the show’s protagonist, and a self-proclaimed metaphysical seeker, as he makes his way around the world seeking vengeance for his parents’ murder, while also looking for the answers to life’s biggest questions. Chaos follows  wherever he goes as he tries to enlighten those he meets and attempts to fix what he perceives as problems, often resulting in the complete destruction of everything around him, sometimes including reality itself. His delusions of grandeur combined with the hostility of the world around him make for a show that is filled with seemingly nonsensical moments and bizarre events. Although this is what has made the show highly unique, it is likely one of the reasons for its relatively small following. It premiered on Adult Swim on November 4, 2007, and ran until April 16, 2009. During its short run, the show saw minimal success, and was generally overlooked. It was not until the late 2010s that the show would garner a cult following through the sharing of internet memes, as well as the frequent reposting of the show’s episodes on numerous streaming websites. Through the use of shocking imagery and absurd situations that the characters are put in, it achieves a grotesque blend of classic adult swim comedy with a unique twist.


Methodology/Theoretical Framework

  When one studies the philosophy of the absurd, one comes to the conclusion that the absurd comes from man’s attempt, or even need, to understand and attribute meaning to the universe, or the thought that there is some sort of order in it. Therefore, the absurd depends on the man as much as it depends on the world. The show itself mocks those who claim to be aware of a higher purpose, through its protagonist, along with many other characters. As philosophers such as Camus and Sartre (despite their differences) exclaim, the universe is completely indifferent to man, and attempting to find any sort of order within it is futile. In this sense, the creators of the show utilize this philosophy related to the absurdity of human existence, and embrace the universe’s indifference to the utmost extreme, putting its characters in bizarre situations to great comedic effect, ridiculing the belief that anyone has any idea about the purpose of humanity in the grand scheme (or lack thereof) of the universe. Furthermore, the show implements irony in its many forms to achieve a comedic effect, but also as a tool for criticism, while also using many of the characters as a parody of kinds of people common in the time that the show was conceived (although they are relatively common now as well). Irony itself can be seen as an infringement on the Gricean maxim of quality, i.e. that the contributions to a discourse should be something that is true. This infringement could affect what is said directly, or invert its normally perceived inferences. Although the definition of what irony specifically is can be somewhat irresolute, this one should suffice for the purpose this paper seeks to achieve. The show’s combination of absurdity along with a bombardment of wordplay requires a firm grasp on the English language. Along with many contextual clues and jokes that are easy to miss, the show’s niche status, which it retains to this day, becomes easily understandable. A deeper dive into the show’s protagonist, his appearance, some of the show’s repeating sequences, as well as other actions and events will help further emphasize why the show achieves its goal in a unique way.



“I’m a Survivor, We’re a Dying Breed”- Xavier as a Walking Parody

  Xavier as the protagonist of the show has a very distinct and, to say the least, disturbing appearance. He is a faun-like creature with a snake for a hand, fur along his body, six nipples,  shaman memorabilia,  and even a beak. He represents an odd mixture of shamanistic cultures that blend into one caricature, all of this while somehow still bearing resemblance to a stereotypical surfer with his long blonde hair and way of speaking. His appearance gives the impression that he is an amalgamation of many cultures and beliefs, none of which fit in with each other, and instead end up looking like an incoherent mess. Notably, even his bodily anatomy contradicts his very being, as his legs are bent backwards, potentially symbolizing the fact that no matter how much he thinks he advances, he never really learns from his mistakes, and stays in one place, or even moves backwards. His highly spiritualistic attitude and imagery resembling that of Native American tribes, serves not to mock those beliefs, but to criticize the misappropriation of said beliefs, as the show, among other things, takes a stab at new-age mysticism and gurus, of which Xavier is essentially a parody of, and how blindly following and blending cultures and values without any thoughtful consideration leads to something much more akin to discord than enlightenment; and discord is what follows every single thing Xavier does throughout his journey as a self-proclaimed metaphysical seeker on a path of vengeance.

The Desert Musings

  The Desert Musings represent the opening sequence to every episode of Xavier Renegade Angel. Namely, every episode starts out with the protagonist wandering through a desert while posing seemingly deep psychological and philosophical questions, all vague and open-ended. These questions usually relate to the meaning of life, or the purpose of human suffering. Xavier thinks out loud while occasionally playing his shakashuri (an odd wind instrument that seems to be inspired by the Aboriginal didgeridoo mixed with a flute). Shortly after, some event happens that forces him out of this landscape, revealing to the viewer that the sequence actually happens inside of his mind, as some sort of reflective meditation. This also ironically indicates that his mind is essentially a desert. This reflects his shallow meditations upon questions that are seemingly deep, but are in reality extremely stereotypical and impossible to truly answer. Thus, we can infer that his mind, much like the desert, is occupied with many thoughts, none of which are as deep as we are led to believe. His mind is as wide as an ocean, but as deep as a puddle. The social commentary is further backed by the characters who often force him out of his musings, such as stereotypical hillbillies who threaten him with beatings for posing such philosophical questions, with an analogy of opening “unquenchable cans of philosophical thirstworms” (Xavier Renegade Angel, Season 1, Episode 1: What Life D-D-Doth?). This kind of wordplay is one of the things that have given the show its fame, or notoriety. Apart from revealing and mocking the dangers of new-age mysticism and bloated philosophy, it shows how other characters regularly disregard any possible food for thought, making them effectively even more dull than Xavier.

Ignorance and Benevolent Narcissism

  Xavier himself is such a conflicted character that encapsulating his entire being concisely causes a degree of difficulty. Although he is seen attempting to help people all the time, his perception of what could be seen as a problem, or as people in need of help, is severely twisted, much like modern-age gurus in the time of the show’s conception, or in more modern times: life coaches. Moreover, it becomes more and more obvious throughout the show that his apparently selfless acts are more to fuel his own ego, rather than to be a benevolent person. In fact, at one point in the show he even derives sexual pleasure upon the notion of helping people (Xavier Renegade Angel, Season 1, Episode 7: Bloodcorn). Without fail, his help ends up doing more harm than good, but he is blissfully unaware of the fact, or at the very least, suppresses it. He pats himself on the back with every mission he thinks he has successfully accomplished, living in a delusion, not noticing the chaos he leaves in his wake, as he goes on to wherever his path takes him next. This leads him to overlook the fact that the culprit for his parents’ death was none other than himself. Having lit multiple candles to hold his seance, he caused a fire that enveloped his house, killing his parents. This ignorance leads him to realize his fault at a much later point in the show, where he has to be told multiple times by a spirit that it was him who had done it. This is when Xavier is confronted with the fact that something he has done is wrong. Upon this revelation, Xavier is so conflicted that he splits himself into two distinct halves representing the divide in his psyche. The two halves then have a lengthy dialogue and then a duel, leading to one of the most bizarre events in fiction. The duel ends up as the conclusion of the first season and ends in a draw, signifying that his inner conflict is never truly resolved.



  In conclusion, Xavier represents all things a philosopher or a spiritual person should not be, he contradicts his very being, does selfless acts that turn out to be selfish, and, despite the desert musings in his psyche, he never truly reflects on his life and decisions. His character is a vessel through which the show's creators  mock anyone who believes that they have discovered the mysteries of the universe and the meaning of life. Perhaps one day humanity will discover what life doth, but that time is a long way away. Through brilliant use of language, subtle jokes, and the characters as vessels for criticism, the show’s creators have managed to produce a piece of work that has very few peers in the way that it sends its message. The show lives on in references, dedicated internet forums, and reruns. Though it remains a niche, Xavier Renegade Angel has found its audience and remains a staple of absurd TV shows for anyone that enjoys them.




Ruiz, Leonor, and V. Alvarado. Irony and Humor: From Pragmatics to Discourse. John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2013.

Sartre, Jean-Paul, and Robert Baldick. Nausea. Penguin Books, 2021.

Camus, Albert, and Justin O'Brien. The Myth of Sisyphus. Vintage International, 2018.

Hutcheon, Linda. Irony's Edge: The Theory and Politics of Irony. Taylor and Francis, 2013.

Hutcheon, Linda. A Theory of Parody: The Teachings of Twentieth-Century Art Forms. University of Illinois Press, 2000.

Hutcheon, Linda. A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction. Routledge, 2010.

comedy , critical , irony , humor , essay , esej , analysis , analiza ,


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