Chapter

Comic Motivation: Jokes and Episodic Plot

I. A. Ruffell

in Politics and Anti-Realism in Athenian Old Comedy

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199587216
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731297 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199587216.003.0004

Series: Oxford Classical Monographs

Comic Motivation: Jokes and Episodic Plot

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This chapter examines the relationship of jokes to plot and argues that Old Comedy is an example of a style of comedy where jokes are not additional to plot but are the fundamental building blocks of plot, through their elaboration into comic routines. Comic plots of this type are characterised by the interplay of comic routines with each other, motivated by theme and above all by the running joke. Such a plot is episodic, in Aristotelian terms, but the chapter seeks to recuperate episodic as a positive and foundational concept. A study of central scenes in Aristophanes' Wasps exemplifies this type of plot formation.

Keywords: joke; routine; episode; theme; plot; narrative; Aristotle; Wasps

Chapter.  17490 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical Literature

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