Chapter

An Introduction to Comedy

Melissa A. Jackson

in Comedy and Feminist Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199656776
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191742170 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199656776.003.0002

Series: Oxford Theological Monographs

An Introduction to Comedy

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Despite its universal nature, ‘comedy’ and related terms, such as ‘laughter’, ‘(the) comic’, and ‘humour’, defy definition. Instead, they overlap and interweave, inextricable ultimately. Three historical theories of the source of laughter, and through extension contributors to an understanding of the comic, are those of Superiority, Relief, and Incongruity. The Incongruity Theory, laughter as a response to the experience of the unexpected, is currently a dominant theory regarding humour. Comedy is also importantly understood as the younger sibling of and the mirroring form to tragedy. This current work ‘defines’ comedy primarily by identifying components that contribute to comedy, grouped into categories of literary devices and modes, psychological/social features, and psychological/social functions. Ultimately, any understanding of ‘comedy’ is incomplete without examples that embody it, a task to which the remainder of this work is set.

Keywords: comedy; comic; humour; incongruity; Incongruity Theory; laughter; tragedy

Chapter.  13280 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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