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Humour in Blackadder 3 Ink and Incapability. Lexical features Much of the comedy in this sit-com is a result of the language used Much of the comedy in.

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Presentation on theme: "Humour in Blackadder 3 Ink and Incapability. Lexical features Much of the comedy in this sit-com is a result of the language used Much of the comedy in."— Presentation transcript:

1 Humour in Blackadder 3 Ink and Incapability

2 Lexical features Much of the comedy in this sit-com is a result of the language used Much of the comedy in this sit-com is a result of the language used Characters simultaneously use pseudo- authentic 18 th Century language with modern colloquial language e.g. sit ye down and brainbox, thicko, get stuffed Characters simultaneously use pseudo- authentic 18 th Century language with modern colloquial language e.g. sit ye down and brainbox, thicko, get stuffed Humour arises from the juxtaposition and unexpectedness of the different types of language Humour arises from the juxtaposition and unexpectedness of the different types of language Also, further incongruity arises from references to Post-Modern concepts such as – ‘Dictionary 2: The Return of the Killer Dictionaries’ Also, further incongruity arises from references to Post-Modern concepts such as – ‘Dictionary 2: The Return of the Killer Dictionaries’

3 Lexical features Blackadder’s fabricated words invented to annoy Dr Johnson add to the hilarity. It is interesting to note that the structure of the words is quite plausible – he uses common prefixes and suffixes. Blackadder’s fabricated words invented to annoy Dr Johnson add to the hilarity. It is interesting to note that the structure of the words is quite plausible – he uses common prefixes and suffixes. The humour arises from Dr. Johnson’s gullibility, as he furiously amends his dictionary and becomes increasingly frustrated. The humour arises from Dr. Johnson’s gullibility, as he furiously amends his dictionary and becomes increasingly frustrated.

4 Historical Figures Blackadder is unique in using historical figures as ‘real people’. They are represented as flawed and idiosyncratic in their behaviours. Eg. Dr Johnson, the Romantic Poets Blackadder is unique in using historical figures as ‘real people’. They are represented as flawed and idiosyncratic in their behaviours. Eg. Dr Johnson, the Romantic Poets

5 Figurative Speech Hyperbole Hyperbole Bizarre metaphors and similes e.g. as useful as a barber’s shop on the steps of the guillotine – This is highly unusual, clever and witty. Bizarre metaphors and similes e.g. as useful as a barber’s shop on the steps of the guillotine – This is highly unusual, clever and witty. This contrasts with George’s efforts which are nonsensical and absurd, which intensifies the humour e.g. ‘As clever as a stick in a bucket of pig swill’ This contrasts with George’s efforts which are nonsensical and absurd, which intensifies the humour e.g. ‘As clever as a stick in a bucket of pig swill’ Doctor Johnson constantly constructs pointless, bizarre and overly verbose similes. They become increasingly ridiculous Doctor Johnson constantly constructs pointless, bizarre and overly verbose similes. They become increasingly ridiculous

6 Postmodernism and playing with Literary Conventions As mentioned before, Blackadder’s imaginary sequel to the dictionary is an allusion to modern culture. The ‘Return of’-…’ films belong to a genre of low budget, B grade movies and parodies. As mentioned before, Blackadder’s imaginary sequel to the dictionary is an allusion to modern culture. The ‘Return of’-…’ films belong to a genre of low budget, B grade movies and parodies. This is funny because it contradicts the nature of the dictionary which is a serious reference book. This creates incongruity and we are amused by this disregard for historical accuracy. This is funny because it contradicts the nature of the dictionary which is a serious reference book. This creates incongruity and we are amused by this disregard for historical accuracy. A key feature of post-modernism is its ‘playful’ attitude to texts and genre, and is typical of Blackadder’s approach to comedy. A key feature of post-modernism is its ‘playful’ attitude to texts and genre, and is typical of Blackadder’s approach to comedy.

7 Baldrick’s Novel Baldrick also creates humour from the presentation of his novel. Baldrick also creates humour from the presentation of his novel. It both pays respect to the conventions of storytelling – Once upon a time there lived…, and its fairytale ending ‘happily ever after’ It both pays respect to the conventions of storytelling – Once upon a time there lived…, and its fairytale ending ‘happily ever after’ The incongruous nature of the main character as a sausage creates further absurdist humour. The incongruous nature of the main character as a sausage creates further absurdist humour. This is an example of the show’s surreal distorted version of reality This is an example of the show’s surreal distorted version of reality

8 Mixing Register A register is a variety of a language used for a particular purpose or in a particular social setting A register is a variety of a language used for a particular purpose or in a particular social setting The show is deliberately anachronistic (something that is out of its proper time or out of date) in its use of language The show is deliberately anachronistic (something that is out of its proper time or out of date) in its use of language The register is blurred between formal and informal. Characters use highly informal colloquialisms such as know it all and bloody well with the formal personal pronoun ‘one’. This results in humorous lines such as I am delighted to have instrumental in keeping your bosom free of arses The register is blurred between formal and informal. Characters use highly informal colloquialisms such as know it all and bloody well with the formal personal pronoun ‘one’. This results in humorous lines such as I am delighted to have instrumental in keeping your bosom free of arses

9 Characterisation and Idiolect Idiolect - an idiolect is a variety of a language unique to an individual. It is manifested by patterns of vocabulary or idiom selection (the individual's lexicon), grammar, or pronunciations that are unique to the individual. Every individual's language production is in some sense unique. Idiolect - an idiolect is a variety of a language unique to an individual. It is manifested by patterns of vocabulary or idiom selection (the individual's lexicon), grammar, or pronunciations that are unique to the individual. Every individual's language production is in some sense unique.

10 Characterisation and Idiolect Each character’s dialogue is characterised by a range of particular linguistic features which relates to certain aspects of their personality Each character’s dialogue is characterised by a range of particular linguistic features which relates to certain aspects of their personality Blackadder – Blackadder – ironic exaggeration loaded with sarcasm ironic exaggeration loaded with sarcasm (see comment about Sir Thomas More) Pompous manner Pompous manner Hyperbole and ironic understatement Hyperbole and ironic understatement Formal tone Formal tone Use of colloquialisms Use of colloquialisms Highly critical comments Highly critical comments Condescending attitude Condescending attitude All of these features create distance between the character and the audience and thus it makes us less able to feel sympathy for him. Thus when his book is lost and subsequently burnt the effect is humorous.

11 Characterisation and Idiolect Prince George Overstatement Overstatement Little or no irony Little or no irony Stereotype of the ‘public-school idiot’ (e.g. Bravo, jolly good) Stereotype of the ‘public-school idiot’ (e.g. Bravo, jolly good) Mixes formal and informal vocabulary (e.g.…being patron of this complete cowpat of a book will set the seal once and for all on my reputation as an utter turnip head ) Mixes formal and informal vocabulary (e.g.…being patron of this complete cowpat of a book will set the seal once and for all on my reputation as an utter turnip head ) Ineptitude at wordplay (e.g. his joke about the letter ‘B’ and the trouble he has had with ‘belching’) We don’t laugh at George’s joke, we laugh at the ridiculous amount of time he has spent on constructing this joke while Blackadder is desperately in need of assistance Ineptitude at wordplay (e.g. his joke about the letter ‘B’ and the trouble he has had with ‘belching’) We don’t laugh at George’s joke, we laugh at the ridiculous amount of time he has spent on constructing this joke while Blackadder is desperately in need of assistance

12 Characterisation and Idiolect Doctor Johnson Excessively complicated and formal Excessively complicated and formallanguage (e.g ….the encyclopaedic implementation of my premeditated orchestration of demotic Anglo-Saxon ) Overly ornate language – reflects his status as an academic Overly ornate language – reflects his status as an academic This results in a caricature. He is presented as a proud, conceited and pompous. This results in a caricature. He is presented as a proud, conceited and pompous. It also contradicts the historical perception of this historical figure as a serious figure. It also contradicts the historical perception of this historical figure as a serious figure. Comedy is also created through the inability of George to understand Dr Johnson and his assumption that he is talking about something that is ‘damn saucy’. Comedy is also created through the inability of George to understand Dr Johnson and his assumption that he is talking about something that is ‘damn saucy’.

13 Characterisation and Idiolect Baldrick Naïve and innocent Naïve and innocent Low intelligence and servile Low intelligence and servile Frequent mistakes with language and idiomatic expressions (e.g. ‘navel’ for ‘novel’, ‘a bag of grapefruits’ for ‘sour grapes’) Frequent mistakes with language and idiomatic expressions (e.g. ‘navel’ for ‘novel’, ‘a bag of grapefruits’ for ‘sour grapes’) Malapropisms – ‘magnificent Malapropisms – ‘magnificent octopus’ instead of ‘magnum opus’ Stereotypical peasant of the era – Stereotypical peasant of the era – superstitious, gullible and illiterate

14 Characterisation and Idiolect Minor characters The Romantic Poets – Byron, Shelley and Coleridge are very different to what the audience expects, though certain aspects of their real life characters have been highly exaggerated. The Romantic Poets – Byron, Shelley and Coleridge are very different to what the audience expects, though certain aspects of their real life characters have been highly exaggerated. They are portrayed as bloodthirsty and violent They are portrayed as bloodthirsty and violent They are also sycophants to the pompous Dr Johnson They are also sycophants to the pompous Dr Johnson The effect is humorous because of its incongruity. The effect is humorous because of its incongruity.

15 Film Techniques Costuming which reflects class and character Costuming which reflects class and character Sets – note the contrast between the Prince’s rooms and the kitchen where the servants Sets – note the contrast between the Prince’s rooms and the kitchen where the servants Visual comedy – slapstick (relationship between Baldrick and Blackadder based on Blackadder’s feudal superiority) Visual comedy – slapstick (relationship between Baldrick and Blackadder based on Blackadder’s feudal superiority) Close-ups and mid shots on facial gestures, especially on Blackadder as he delivers a cutting line. Close-ups and mid shots on facial gestures, especially on Blackadder as he delivers a cutting line.

16 In Conclusion Blackadder is a highly effective comedy due to a variety of factors: Blackadder is a highly effective comedy due to a variety of factors: Humour of character - the contrasting characters and their interaction. Use of idiolect Humour of character - the contrasting characters and their interaction. Use of idiolect Humour of situation – an Humour of situation – an irreverent interpretation of history Clever use of language Clever use of language techniques including hyperbole, understatement, wit, irony and sarcasm. wit, irony and sarcasm. Mixture of register Mixture of register


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