Levels of Comedy powerpoint
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Levels of Comedy Lecture
Comedy • Comedy arose in Greece as tragedy did. • Plots are similar: affairs go wrong, truth is discovered or covered up, hero saves the day, the villain is overcome and equilibrium and balance are restored. • Tragedy – moves toward despair or death – Diction is elevated and heroic
• Comedy – moves toward happiness and marriage. – Diction is common or colloguial, witty, witless and bawdy
The Comedic Pattern • Comedic Problems: thwarted love, eccentric behavior, corruption in high places fueled by misunderstanding, mistakes in identity, errors in judgment, excessive or unreasonable behavior/coincidences
The Comedic Pattern • Comic climax: confusions reach a peak, misunderstanding is dominant, pressure is at a high point, choices must be made and solutions found. • The catastrophe, or turning point, introduces a sudden revelation in which a key fact or identity or event is planned to characters and audience at the same time.
The Comedic Pattern • Comic denouement: Resolves the initial problems…”setting things right” • Education and change: the two key features of comedy – Characters learn something about themselves, their society, or the way to love and live.
Levels of Comedy •
Lowest Level –
– – – – –
Low comedy refers to the type of humor that is focused primarily on the situation or series of events. Deals with ideas that require less thought and evaluation. Often bathroom humor, falling on butt, slipping on banana peels, etc. This represents the lowest level of the comedy ladder. It can include such things as physical mishaps, humor concerning the human body and its functions, coincidences, and humorous situations. With low comedy, the humor is straightforward and generally easy to follow and understand. Since the primary purpose of most low comedy is to entertain, the action is frequently seen as hilarious or hysterical and the laughter that can result is often riotous, and filled with slapstick, side-splitting laughter and guffaws. Many times, the characters are grossly exaggerated caricatures rather than fully developed characters. These caricatures are likely to be caught in unlikely situations or to become victims of circumstances seemingly beyond their control. Thus, the plot takes priority over the characters. Farce - A play form that includes a lot of mistaken identities, slapstick humor, bathroom humor, ludicrous situations, etc. Farce is usually fast-paced and relies on actors having good timing and not being afraid of making a buffoon of oneself. The Taming of the Shrew Burlesque - A play that lampoons other artistic works, especially theatre. Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera. Examples of low comedy might include Dumb and Dumber, Scary Movie, and America’s Funniest Home Videos. Shakespeare’s comedies, such as Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night, are full of low humor. Three Stooges, Will Farrell movies
Highest Level – High Comedy - Deals with "intelligent" ideas. Often requires or is enhanced with intellectual evaluation. – Refers to the type of humor that is focused primarily on the characters, dialogue, or ideas. This represents the highest level of the comedy ladder. It can include such things as clever word play, wit, and pointed remarks regarding larger issues. Many times, high comedy takes an irreverent or unconventional look at serious issues. Sometimes, the humor of high comedy is not immediately obvious; it can take a bit of reflection in order to realize the humorous intent. – Frequently, the purpose of high comedy is to express an opinion, to persuade, or to promote deeper consideration of an idea. Often described as amusing, clever, or witty, high comedy typically results in chuckles, grins, and smiles rather than loud laughter. Clever use of language and interesting characters receive more attention than the circumstances that surround them. – Examples of high comedy might include The Office, Scrubs and, at times, The Simpsons. Shakespeare’s tragedies, such as Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet, also include instances of high comedy.
Levels of Comedy • Comedy of Manners - You should have read The Importance of Being Earnest, which most folks consider a comedy of manners. And it is just that: this play makes fun of the manners, or brainless rules, of society. Nearly every bit of humor in the play makes fun of the behavior that was required to live in late Victorian society. The play is still immensely funny today because many of these manners still exist. Comedy of manners is usually full of verbal wit, and it often takes place in upper class society. Comedy of manners is a bit more difficult to find nowadays. However, try watching a Woody Allen film. His films often make fun of societies stupid little "rules." Clueless, Annie Hall, The Graduate, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Royal Tenenbaums
• Satire - If you've seen political cartoons, you've probably seen satire. It is sometimes similar to comedy of manners in that it deals with aspects of society, but satire wants its audience to see social problems and perhaps even motivate change. For some great examples of satire, visit the webpage of web-animator Mark Fiore. He has dozens of short little animated films that comment on his perceptions of social ills that need to be fixed. Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Manchurian Candidate, Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Truman Show, WALL•E
• Dark Comedy - This is humor that makes fun of things that are supposed to be held with respect. So making fun of the girl in the wheelchair is usually no-no, unless you want to use dark comedy. However, it often also makes fun of ideas that are sacred or special. Like the Pastor who, with his arm around the new widow as they stand in front of the casket, says, "It's okay. Just think: In a few years, we'll laugh about this." If you laugh at comedy, and feel guilty about it later, it's a good chance it's dark comedy. Dark comedy can often be considered "low" comedy, but since it usually deals with ideas, I like to stick it in the "high" comedy area. Where would you put it? Raising Arizona, Harold and Maude, Heathers, Dr. Strangelove, Better off Dead,
Irony in its various forms • Situational Irony: – A discrepancy between what appears to be and what is actually exists.
• Verbal Irony: – Saying something different from what is meant; words are sometimes intended to be taken at other than face value. (Contradictory actions and statements as well as the use of understatement and overstatement can often be signals that verbal irony is present.)
• Dramatic Irony: – When a writer allows a reader to know more about a situation that a character does.
Irony in its various forms Continued • Tragic Irony: – A form of dramatic irony; eg. Oedipus searches for the person responsible for the plague, only to discover himself the culprit.
• Cosmic Irony: – When a writer uses God, destiny, or fate to dash the hopes and expectations of a character or of humankind in general. Discrepancy exists between what a character aspires to and what universal forces provide.
• Sarcasm: – Strong form of verbal irony that is calculated to hurt someone through, eg. false praise.
Vocabulary • Satire - The art of criticizing a subject by ridiculing it and evoking toward it an attitude of amusement, contempt, or scorn. • Satire (in relation to literature) - A literary technique used in prose and poetry that combines a critical attitude with wit and humor for the purpose of improving society. • Hyperbole - A figure of speech that uses exaggeration to emphasize strong feelings or to create a satiric effect. • Understatement - The technique of creating emphasis by saying less than what is actually or literally true. • Sarcasm - A type of verbal irony often in the form of a remark in which the literal meaning is complimentary but the actual meaning is critical. • Verbal Irony - words of praise which convey criticism and words of criticism which convey praise
Horatian Satire • Horace (b 65 BC, d 8 BC) • “Tells Truth with a Smile” • Appear to pass gentle comment on the failing of mankind, rather than dealing with these faults with malice. • Satire, the attitude of which is amused at the foibles of mankind and merely pokes fun at them. • Topical, short-lived, current
Juvenalian Satire • • • •
B AD 60-70 Bitter, ironical humor Power of invectives, grim epigrams Narrow-minded pessimism – Attacks the rich then condemns females
• Satire, the attitude of which is bitter and angry and attacks sometimes viciously the vices of men. • Universal issues
Horatian or Juvenalian? • “They dream in courtship, but in wedlock wake.”—Alexander Pope • “Wherefore being all of one mind, we do highly resolve that government of the grafted by the grafter for the grafter shall not perish from the earth.”—Mark Twain • “In other words, a war that could destroy the global order and cast a region of the earth into chaos was discussed for about as much time as it takes Lenscrafters to make a pair of bifocals”—Jon Stewart
Targets of Satire • • • •
society and its institutions types of people a particular person a place (city, state, nation)
Vehicles of Satire • • • • •
art music poetry, prose drama, films cartoons / comic strips
"The Unhappy Elephant" a fable by Cam Amos • An elephant who lives in the jungle became very dissatisfied with his life. He was not happy living with the herd and thought that the life of an elephant was too hard for him. Tired of moving tree trunks, he left to seek happiness in the world. • After travelling many miles, he saw a group of monkeys chattering happily while sailing from tree to tree, across a deep ravine. He asked them if it was enjoyable and easy, and they answered him, "It is indeed both." • So he went to one of the trees that was very close to the ravine, wrapped his tail around the overhanging branch, and sailed over the cliff, crashing to the bottom and killing himself.
Mr. Artesian’s Conscientiousness by Ogden Nash Once there was a man named Mr. Artesian and his activity was tremendous. And he grudged every minute away from his desk because the importance of his work was so stupendous: And he had one object all sublime. He figured that sleeping eight hours a night meant that if he lived to be seventy-five he would have spent twenty-five years not at this desk but in bed.
So he cut his slumber to six hours which meant he only lost eighteen years and nine months instead. And he figured that taking ten minutes for breakfast and twenty minutes for luncheon and half an hour for dinner meant that he spent three years, two months, and fifteen days at the table. So that by subsisting solely on bouillon cubes which he swallowed at his desk to save this entire period he was able, And he figured that at ten minutes a day he spent a little over six months and ten days shaving.
So he grew a beard, which gave him a considerable saving, And you might think that now he might have been satisfied, but no, he wore a thoughtful frown, Because he figured that at two minutes a day he would spend thirty-eight days and a few minutes in elevators just traveling up and down.
So as a final timesaving device he stepped out the window of his office, which happened to be on the fiftieth floor, And one of his partners asked “Has he vertigo?” and the other glanced out and down and said “Oh no, only about ten feet more.”
Parodies • Saturday Night Live • Weird Al Yankevic