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Humor Theory of Incongruity and How it is Seen in Improv - Term Paper Example

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Name Institution Course Instructor Date The Incongruity of Improv Though there are many theories to explain humour, the most popular one the most popular one that is used is the Incongruity theory. This theory maintains that the cause of laughter comes when one perceives something that is incongruous (Michael et…
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Humor Theory of Incongruity and How it is Seen in Improv

Download file to see previous pages... When incongruity occurs, it “violates our normal patterns and normal expectations”. So when something nonsensical or of the ridiculous occurs it contradicts daily norms and perceptions of propriety often causing the observer to respond with laughter. There are many theories for humour, which emerged primarily from philosophical studies and research in psychology. Of these, the incongruity theory comes out in the improv theatre. The incongruity theory suggests that humour is due to the mixing of two disparate interpretation frames in one statement. One of the earliest references to an incongruity theory of humour is perhaps due to Aristotle (350 BC) who found out that the contrast between expectation and actual outcome of often a source of humour. There is a distinction between surprise and incongruity. This occurs where the audience presumes the later to have a resolution that the actions initially hide from the audience. The incongruity theory also has a supporter in several psychologists who emphasize the element of surprise by suggesting that “the greater and more expected (...) the incongruity is, the more violent will be (the) laughter”. ...
Some theorists argue that plays only need incongruity for humour to be present; others argue that there is need for both incongruity and a resolution of that incongruity. This second version is called the configurationally theory. Several theorists point out that another element – intelligence perception- must be present since humour has its basis in intellect. It is therefore important to understand the differences between the inconsistencies in order to appreciate humour better (Beard 45). Incongruity theorists believe that the audience laughs because their line of thought surprisingly switches from one context to another. Although many scholars argue that understanding the nature of humour is extremely difficult, if not impossible, because of the fluid variables in any humour context, some scholars believe that incongruity best defines the fundamental element of humour. For its proponents, incongruity forms the foundation of humour theory, the most universal one, which validates all humour contexts, both perceived and created. The greatest weakness of this theory is that its tasting is not significant (Michael et. al. 11). Incongruity in improv closely relates with the developmental theory. These two theories stress the absurd, the inappropriate or out-of-context events as the basis for humour. While these incongruities are necessary, they are not sufficient prerequisites for humour alone. After all, incongruous events or statements can lead to curiosity or anxiety rather than humour; so the perception of humour is dependent upon how the audience understands incongruity in the context in which it occurs. This brings the understanding that not only does the audience have to perceive an ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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