Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Comedy isn't one dimensional... is it?

In reading Hobbes' and Plato's staunch interpretations of humor, one would immediately classify them as "buzz kills" for the sole reason of them vilifying what makes one crack a smile. To suggest that comedy is simply a man asserting dominance over the other, due to the dog-eat-dog world that we comfortably live in is completely baffling. True, the evidence they present can be deemed somewhat credible, but the overall concept of making comedy a cruel and unfunny gesture is simply absurd. By commenting that humor is full of malice and evil echos what the Catholic Church said about rock music, it truly makes very little sense. Although the audience can vouch for feeling as though a stand up comedian, such as Carlos Mencia, radiates an air of pompousness, the overall composition of the jokes are as hollow as the space in between his ears. Is it true humor to degrade another human being so another can siphon an ephemeral sense of superiority from the resounding snickers from the poorly delivered joke? Most would agree that a hurtful or explicit joke that does skyrocket the comedian over his intended target remains humorous for all of five seconds. True humor will have the audience chuckling in appreciation and not just a fleeting sense of popularity. Perhaps that is what Hobbes' and Plato were attempting to divulge to their responsible audience and that is why they classified humor under such a depreciative light.

Kant and Kierkegaard, on the other hand, approaches comedy and humor from a more psychological standpoint - classifying one's reaction based upon their expectations. If a joke tends to fall under the audience's expectations, the audience is gratified and therefore laughs. If the joke falls flat, or completely diverges from its promise, it is rare that the audience will respond positively. They touch upon the dimensionality of comedy and don't judge it as a one-dimensional fop. There are many facades to humor, especially when it comes to contradictions. Either innocent, intentional, or unintended, contradictions and hypocrisy are a favorite amongst harmless joke-telling or full blown comedic skits that one pays hundreds to see preformed live. Expectations play a large role in how the comedian will be received and normally have a tailored following. For example, people from New England adore watching Blue Collar TV as much as middle schoolers fawn over Dane Cook. It can be proposed that humans establish their preferred type of comedy and are more receptive to familiar gags than completely new material where their expectations are relatively low or undefined. Perhaps, returning to Plato and Hobbes, some individuals have developed a taste for caustic humor, no matter how unfavorable the general public sees it. What one finds comedic rests solely on the eye of the beholder.

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