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Humor: Features, Functions & Subjects

Humor: Features, Functions & Subjects

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Humor: Features, Functions & Subjects

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  1. Humor:Features, Functions & Subjects by Don L. F. Nilsen, and Alleen Pace Nilsen

  2. Features of Humor Double Entendre (Intentional Ambiguity) Insight Epiphinal (e.g. a punch line) Slow (e.g. a put-on or shaggy dog story) Surprise Garden path (e.g. false clues) “Expected” surprise (e.g. Fibber McGhee’s Closet) If God is omniscient, can he be surprised—Does He have a sense of humor? Tension Catching on to a joke (i.e. a mini intelligence test Telling a joke correctly (salient details, local details, not boring) Relief afterwards (e.g. success in telling or catching on)

  3. More Features of Humor Distortion of salient feaatures (caricature, parody, political cartoons) Superiority or hostility (e.g. Charles Gruner’s prize) Incongruity (based on pattern) (e.g. rule of 3 to establish pattern) unresolved (e.g. child’s riddle) Visually Resolvable (umbrella is a storm) Intellectually resolvable (e.g. girl in tennis shoes locked in a room with a piano, a wooden table, a saw, and a baseball bat) Intellectually unresolvabe (e.g. What hangs on the wall, is green, is wet, and whistles? Answer: A herring) NOTE: hangs on the wall is green is wet whistles

  4. Creative Functions of Humor Artistic functions of humor (i.e. Arthur Koestler’s “Aaaah!”) Realism (e.g. public art) Distortion (e.g. surrealism, impressionism, expressionism, dada) Scientific functions of humor (Arthur Koestler’s “Ah ha!”) Ironies (e.g. Fulton’s Folly) Paradox (caused by paradigm shifts) Disparate connections (e.g. tides, moon, electricity, magnetism, electric motor) Cathartic functions of humor (i.e. Arthur Koestler’s “Ha Ha!”)

  5. The Benefits of Humorin a Hierarchal Social System Political and religious benefits of humor (especially in a hierarchal social system) To turn the tables (e.g. Hogan’s Heroes, Mulla Nasrudin stories, Governor Mecham jokes) To explain the ironies of war (e.g. Catch 22, Animal Farm, Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman [SNAFU, FUBAR, “friendly fire,” and “the fog of war”)

  6. Educational Functions of Humor Teaching and Learning Arguing and Persuading

  7. The Social Functions of Humor Inbonding and Outbonding Promoting social stability and control (convergent thinking) Promoting social change (divergent thinking)

  8. Health & Literary Benefits of Humor Health benefits of humor (e.g. psychosomatic wellness) Literary benefits of humor Opposing scripts and punch line of a joke Double entendre & denouement of a literary piece Analogies & the master tropes: Metaphor, Metonymy, Synecdoche, Irony (e.g. schemes & tropes in Harry Potter) Parody (e.g. human slinky, parodies of Poe) Satire Juvenalian (1984, A Modest Proposal, War Prayer) Horatian (Animal Farm, Gulliver’s Travels, Huckleberry Finn) Sarcasm (e.g. Stephen Colbert, John Stewart, Mr. Slaughter in The Graveyard Book, Lemony Snicket in a minute) Comic Relief (e.g. Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth) Characterization (e.g. The Taming of the Shrew, Archie Bunker, I Am the Cheese)

  9. Psychological Benefits of Humor Psychological benefits of humor Arousal Social control (e.g. satire or an inside joke) Establishment of superiority Release and relief (after the tension of telling or hearing a joke) Ego defense, coping, and saving face Gaining status Testing limits Dealing with the unknown (e.g. Western tall tales & contemporary urban legends [FOAF tales])

  10. Evolution of the Jester The king and his jester The clown and his scepter The ventrilolquist and his dummy Unscripted commedia del’arte (street performer, Punch & Judy Shows, Audience interactive comedy)

  11. Subjects of Humor Ethnicity Politics Sexual roles Occupations Religion and belief system Taboo subjects Censorship from the right: sex, religion, body parts, swear words, obscenities, vulgarities Censorship from the left (Political Correctness): women, gays, disabled people, ethnic minorities, old people, anyone who is marginalized

  12. Time for Audience Examples Have members of the audience tell a joke, a story, or an anecdote and explain the educational, health, literary, psychological or social impact: