Etymology of Comic Relief Comic – Greek komodia, komodios - "a comedy, amusing spectacle," "singer in the revels" Relief – Old French relever - “to relieve”
Definition of Comic Relief Humor occurring in the midst of a tragic literary selection that is deliberately designed to relieve emotional intensity and simultaneously to heighten, increase and highlight the seriousness or tragedy of the action Apart from being just a diversion, comic relief advances the plot of the dramatic work.
Comic Relief in Context Traditionally used in the realm of tragic drama (i.e. Shakespeare’s tragedies) In drama, comic relief often takes form in a bumbling, wisecracking sidekick of the protagonist or antagonist. Often showcases the absurdity of the hero’s situation Used by characters to irritate others or to keep themselves confident
Comic Relief in All Souls Breaks up the somber tone of the memoir (with its themes of violence, poverty, racism, corruption) Primarily used by Ma to keep high spirits Reveals the absurdity of the racism and poverty in Southie in the 1960s, 70s and 80s
Examples from the text Visit from the social worker (pp. 33-34) Mass Mental mayhem (pp. 46-47) Cockroaches in Old Colony (pp. 52-53) Skootchie’s kleptomaniac tendencies (pp. 61-62)