What Is Comedy? 1. Comedy is based on IRONY. 2. Awareness of irony is INTELLECTUAL, not EMOTIONAL. 3. Comedy lifts us out of our emotional responses. 4. With emotional defenses down, we can see a need for change in a comic character. 5. Typically, the comic character is blind to his misperceptions but repeats the rigid behavior. 6. Good comedy allows us to feel SUPERIOR to the characters.
What Is Comedy? 7. Despite our superior position, we see similarities between the comic character and ourselves. 8. We sense our own rigidity and blindness are like the comic fool’s and note the laughter that the comic fool arouses. 9. Comedy acts as a way to CHANGE the individual or the society using laughter. 10. Satire, ridicule, and burlesque often work in the service of CHANGE. 11. Comedy uses exaggeration, understatement, role reversal, and the devices of IRONY to make us laugh (and compare).
A Few Good Terms… Tools of the Satirist Biting and Harsh Juvenalian Satire Invective Language Sarcasm Middle Ground Hyperbole Understatement Parody Light and Humorous Wit Horatian Satire Caricature Tools of Comedy Dark Humor Dramatic Irony Innuendo Malapropism Pun Slapstick The Comic Ladder Low Comedy Farce Comedy of Manners Comedy of Ideas
Comedy A dramatic work that is light or humorous in tone, usually ending with a peaceful resolution of the main conflict
Dark Humor Juxtaposes morbid or ghastly elements with comical ones. Example:
Dramatic Irony When the audience has information that characters on stage do not Can be used to COMIC or TRAGIC effect (depending on the ending) TRAGIC: Romeo and Juliet COMIC: Importance of Being Earnest
Innuendo An indirect, subtle, usually derogatory insinuation Example: Everything Mercutio says in Romeo and Juliet I conjure thee by Rosaline’s bright eyes, By her high forehead and her scarlet lip, By her fine foot, straight leg and quivering thigh And the demesnes that there adjacent lie, That in thy likeness thou appear to us!
Malapropism The ludicrous misuse of words, especially through confusion caused by resemblance in sound Example:
Pun A humorous use of a word involving two interpretations of the meaning Examples:
Slapstick A type of physical comedy characterized by broad humor, absurd situations, and vigorous (usually violent) actions Examples: America’s Funniest Home Videos
The Comic Ladder LOW COMEDY Dirty Jokes, Dirty Gestures, Sex Elimination (i.e., poop jokes) Range from EXAGGERATION to UNDERSTATEMENT Focus on Physical (long noses, crossed eyes, hunched back, deformities) Physical Actions (slapstick, pratfalls, loud noises, physical mishaps, collisions) Man encountering an uncooperative universe Low Comedy
The Comic Ladder FARCE Low OR High Comedy (or Combo) Full of Coincidences, Mistimings, Mistaken Identity Characters are Puppets of Fate Twins Wrong Class Unable to Marry Too Poor/Rich Loss of Identity (birth, fate, accident) Twins Separated, Unaware of Double Low Comedy Farce
The Comic Ladder COMEDY OF MANNERS High Comedy Amorous Intrigues of the Upper Class Witty Language Clever speech, insults, and “put-downs” Society Made Up of Cliques The In-Crowd The Would-Be Wits (desire to be part of the witty crowd) The Witless (on the outside) Low Comedy Farce Comedy of Manners
The Comic Ladder COMEDY OF IDEAS High Comedy Politics, Religion, Sex, and Marriage Use WIT to Mock Opponents in Argument Subtle Way to SATIRIZE People and Institutions Political Parties Government Churches War Marriage Low Comedy Farce Comedy of Manners Comedy of Ideas
Satire Ridicules conduct, doctrine, or institutions through irony, parody, and caricature
Juvenalian Satire BITING AND HARSH Biting, Bitter, and Angry Points out the corruption of human beings and institutions with contempt, using saeva indignation (a savage outrage) Based on the style of the Roman poet, Juvenal Perceived as enraged, sees the vices and follies in the world as intolerable Uses SARCASM and IRONY (in large doses)
Invective Language BITING AND HARSH Speech or Writing that: Abuses Denounces Vituperates Against Can Be Directed Against A person A cause An idea A System Employs Heavy Use of Emotive Language
Sarcasm BITING AND HARSH From the Greek, “to tear flesh” Involves bitter, caustic language that is meant to hurt or ridicule someone or something May use irony as a device, but not all ironic statements are sarcastic When well done: Witty and Insightful When poorly done: Simply Cruel
Hyperbole MIDDLE GROUND Using deliberate exaggeration or overstatement Sometimes has a comic effect Can also have a serious effect Often produces irony at the same time
Understatement MIDDLE GROUND The ironic minimizing of fact Presents something as less significant than it is Effect can frequently be humorous and emphatic The opposite of hyperbole
Parody MIDDLE GROUND Satiric imitation of a work or of an author Goal to ridicule the person, his ideas, or his work Exploits peculiarities of a person or author’s mannerisms or expressions May also be focused on an improbable plot with too many convenient events
Wit LIGHT AND HUMOROUS Intellectually amusing language that surprises and delights Humorous, while suggesting the speaker’s verbal power in creating ingenious and perceptive remarks Usually uses terse language that makes a pointed statement
Horatian Satire LIGHT AND HUMOROUS Gentle, urbane, smiling Aims to correct with broadly sympathetic laughter Based on Roman lyrical poet, Horace Purpose “to hold up a mirror” so readers/audience can see him/herself and their world honestly Vices and follies satirized are not destructive Reflect foolishness of people, the superficiality and meaninglessness of their lives, and the bareness of their values
Caricature LIGHT AND HUMOROUS Representation (especially pictorial or literary) in which the subject’s distinctive features or peculiarities are deliberately exaggerated Produces comic or grotesque effect Sometimes so exaggerated that it becomes a grotesque imitation or misrepresentation