Laughter An Essay On The Meaning Of The Comic

Laughter An Essay On The Meaning Of The Comic-44
Being human is fluid and implies change and adjustment to meet the needs of the moment.Tripping, then, is symbolic of all things that are less than human.

Being human is fluid and implies change and adjustment to meet the needs of the moment.Tripping, then, is symbolic of all things that are less than human.

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It is the runner going on mechanically, despite it causing them to fall, that we find funny.

He sees the equation, person as machine equals funny as a motif that is repeatedly available in our humour.

Comedy is about types, recognisable and easily identifiable types who act out their behaviours according to their type.

Again, these types are mechanical and it is their machine like behaviours that we find ‘non-human’ and therefore funny.

He says they are in fact acting in a mechanical way.

If they had been acting as a ‘human’ they would have side-stepped the thing that tripped them up and gone on their way.

Think of Hamlet and three hundred years of psychological arguments about his endlessly complex character. Bergson’s point is that the comic character is always less than human.

But this isn’t really about us laughing and pointing at the freaks – our laughter serves a moral purpose for Bergson.

And not just in slapstick humour, but also in verbal and situational humour too.

We find stereotypes funny because they can be relied upon to act in a way that will be mindlessly followed or carried on according to a kind of rule – and acting according to a rule is essentially acting mechanically.

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