three main theories of humour

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  • Topic: Comedy, Theories of humor, Humour
  • Pages : 4 (1528 words )
  • Download(s) : 162
  • Published : October 8, 2013
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“Dissecting a joke is like dissecting a frog, few people are interested and the frog dies.” E.B White. Despite this, looking at humour and what we find amusing raises some interesting questions. Why do we find some jokes humorous and not others? What can we define as amusing? And what philosophical value does ‘humour’ have in our lives. This essay will be exploring the three main theories of humour and the important of humour in Nietzsche’s philosophy and life. The first of the main theories of humour is the Incongruity Theory. The Incongruity Theory is the idea that humour is derived from surprise. This is, the sudden revelation of a previously concealed fact. The first part of the joke or the set up, forces you into making an assumption, and the assumption you where forced into making is shown to be incorrect by information given in the second part or ‘punch line’. For example we have the joke “three men walk into a bar”, we have already drawn our assumption from the other jokes that follow this pattern. When the punch line is delivered “ouch” we are surprised at how this joke has diverted from the familiar and we laugh. However this formula is not full proof for all situations. If someone surprised you by hitting you in the stomach you would (most likely) not find this situation amusing. The puncher may find amusement however, depending on the circumstances, according to the superiority theory. The superiority theory is the amusement that is derived from the “sudden glory arising from sudden conception of some eminency in ourselves, by comparison with the infirmities of others, or with our own.” (Hobbs) This is the sudden elevation that one feels at the telling of a joke. This could be from elevation over the subject matter or as simple as feeling elevated due to the fact you where able to understand the joke. This theory is the most venerable as it associated with Plato, Aristotle and Hobbes. While jokes still work in a similar format to the ones stated...
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