Darth Vader, and infact before that, when he was Anakin too, has a distinct sense of humor. He is a master of the dry understatement. “Perhaps you feel you’re being treated unfairly?” “I find your lack of faith disturbing.” “Don’t choke on your aspirations.” “This is where the fun begins” “You will try.”
I wonder if this way of talking, of being formal and minimal in his language is how he was taught to talk as a slave. He was not expected to make big observations or give big opinions. He was expected to take his cruel childhood in his stride.
But then he moves to the temple and is in the company of children who are his age but were never slaves. During his introduction to the dorms the class is told that meals will be made available every eighth of a day and every fifth of a night. Anakin says outloud “How regular.” and all the other kids laugh. Anakin really was marveling at food being regular. All the other children seemed to think it was a joke.
Anakin understood very quickly that he was at risk of being “funny”. He said things the other kids wouldn’t say, and he’d say them in ways they wouldn’t either. He thought it better to be funny on purpose than to have funny assigned to him.
He wasn’t sure which of the things he was saying we’re jokes. He learnt to make a smirk, one his face wasn’t accustomed to; he wasn’t previously allowed to be perceived as arrogant. But the smirk made people think he was being comical. People seemed a lot less stiff around him when they were laughing.
He’s in the military now. His character is criticized as being unproffesional. He is called cocky. Some say he has a disturbed sense of humour. The clone troopers like him. They talk very much like he does. They understand how property is meant to talk.
The War is over. He no longer has a mouth to smirk with. Everyone is ridged. No one laughs. He talks to everyone the way he used to talk to Watto. They all look so small from this angle. They seem afraid that he’s mocking them. Threatening them? He doesn’t know how to make them think he’s joking. He doesn’t know if he’s joking.
My friend was messing around and accidentally bopped his three year old in the face with a foam paper object. After recovering from the inevitable tears, she walked over, grabbed his shoulders, and said (very very quietly and calmly)
“Hey Daddy, you know we don’t do that. We don’t hit people, it’s not nice.”
He kept a straight face and said, “You’re right kid, I’m sorry.”
She sighs. “I know Daddy, but you can’t hit anymore okay? It hurt peoples and it’s not nice. We can’t hit people okay?”
“I’m sorry kid. Will you forgive me?”
“Yes okay Daddy. Now give me a hug.”