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There is no doubt that laughter constitutes an important aspect of human existence and the general realization is that it touches on the social and political aspects of human beings. Bakhtin in the study of the sociological and cultural aspects of carnivals realize that carnivals were not just cultural events but they had been assimilated within the psyche of people that they elicited certain reactions and perceptions. Baktin’s observes specifically he important social role played by the carnivals during the medieval periods. Looking at the social structures during the period, there is the realization that the low class was usually oppressed and they were predisposed to serve and to fulfill the wishes of the upper class. The low class usually lived in circumstances where economical and social oppression was evident. The organization of the low class in particular localities meant that over time they adopted certain characteristic cultures. The cultures were usually considered inferior if not unconventional by the upper class and as such the low class was not always free to express their feelings and perceptions. Carnivals played an important role because it provided an opportunity for the low class to express themselves without eliciting any form of rebuke or despise from the upper class. However, Turner’s theory of laughter takes a more psychological approach rather than the political approach assumed by Bakhtin. Turner outlines that laughter is an important process in the existence of human beings as it provides balance between the states of distress and states of happiness. Embodied within Turner’s perception is the complex process that takes place during laughter. Turner outlines that laughter is caused by aspects in the society that are unexpected. The human brain perceives the unexpected circumstances that are devoid of harm as unusual and then laughter ensues. Turner agrees with Bakhtin in the sense that laughter provides tranquility and rest from the normal stresses and hustles of life. However, the general realization is that Baktin’s approach was more political and aimed at criticizing the upper class. Although their approaches towards laughter were different, both of them stumbled upon laughter as they were studying cultural and anthropological aspects of human beings.
The most interesting lecture in this semester is the lecturer that covered on the various aspects of humor as brought out in the romantic comedy “The Roman Holiday.” The lecturer managed to capture the aspects in such an in depth manner even managing to refer to ancient fairy tales of the naïve princess falling in love with a commoner. The unexpected relationship between the commoner and the princess gives the director to employ numerous screwball characteristics to the film. The unexpected union is similar to the one presented in the movie “Along came Polly” directed by John Hamburg and starring Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston. The two protagonists Rueben and Polly meet after Rueben’s wife cheats on their honeymoon. Rueben is a risk analyzer and lives his life according to rules while Polly is a carefree young woman. From two different worlds the love blossom in a humorous way as the two protagonists attempt display their different perceptions of life (Hamburg, 2004). In “Roman Holiday” the princess in the beginning strikes as an elegant persons but the vulnerability presented as she tries to secure momentary freedom from royalty life, reveals naivety and innocence. The twist in this perspective is funny as one sees the princess falling asleep on a bench. The lecturer also revealed that the bringing of characters from different social classes is a recipe for laughter especially when the two of them start the relationship with deception. The humor is especially brought out when they attempt harder to conceal as they become familiar with each other. The humorous deception is also brought out in the movie starring Monique called “Phat Girlz.” The movie depicts the union between an African prince and a woman who has spent all her life fighting against being looked upon because of her plus size. The funny part is when the female protagonist played by Monique finds love unexpectedly from a Nigerian man who likes plus size women (Likké, 2004).
Screwball comedy as described in the lecturers is the kind of comedy that contains several twists and turns that have the capacity of immersing the audience in the drama and at the same time incorporating humor. The interesting aspects about the laughter as presented by the screwball concept are that it manages to cover some important aspects in the society such as the conflicts existing between men and women. The humor is incorporated within the conflicts that exist between men and women and the fact that despite the conflicts men and women are always drawn towards each other. A screwball comedy depicts the emergence of the economically empowered women who have the capacity to compete with men. The general realization is that humor provides the platform from where to argue conflicts amicably the conflicts within the society without involving negative sentiments. The general realization is that the humor is built upon the normal aspects in the society that are presented in a surprising way that it elicits not only surprise but also laughter. The eventual perception is that the twists of the circumstances and the eventual decision made by the characters in developing the plot are significant in bringing out the concept of humor. An example of a comedy that can be described as screwball comedy is the comedy “Ball of Fire.” The Comedy outlines the plight of a young professor trying to compile an encyclopedia with colleagues and a young woman torn between justice and loyalty to her estranged boyfriend. In the midst of humor, love blossoms between the young man and the woman. Most significantly is the slang the woman tries to teach the man that manages to add to the humor.
As outlined earlier the aspect of humor is clearly brought out in when unexpected happenings are witnessed. The aspect of reversed roles between men and women in comedies thereby become the essence of the humor itself. Traditionally, men and women have always had different roles. The aspect of the reversed roles and the twists and turns that occurs in such a situation has been used by comedians to elicit humor. The modern woman with her newly found independence is torn between the affection she feels for the male and urge to compete with and perhaps outperform the male. The result is that as both the male and the female engage in the tussle for power, humor is the only aspect that can remind them of the love and the affection they feel towards each other. The male and the female approach each other with suspicion but the sexual attraction in existent soon overcomes the suspicion. There is the general realization that the irony outlined by turner where there exists both aspect of being drawn towards each other and apart from each other. The humor is drawn from the games and the approaches taken by the men and the women as they seek to outperform each other. In some instances, the roles are so reversed such that it is the men who remain at home and cook while the women go to work. The reversed roles bring out various character traits in a manner and fashion that would have been difficult to realize without the inclusion of humor. An example is seen in the series Sex and the City where women have taken to approach sexual and relationship matters lightly and arrogantly, a trait that was previously exclusive to men (Star, 2004)
The 50-50 rule in humor is brought out in situations where the competition between male and females arrives at the climax and both of the parties decide to share roles and power equally. In the movie “It’s Complicated” directed by Nancy Meyers, there is a general realization that the two protagonists love each other but because of the pride they decide to stay apart from each other. The circumstances in which they eventually reunite is funny because the female protagonist of forced to be the other woman in the life of her ex-husband since her ex-husband had already remarried. The realization in this perspective is that the attraction between the sexes as outlined by turner is the major force driving the sexes towards each other. The parties are reminded in the midst of humor that love conquers all (Meyers, 2009). The female who is apparently independent realizes that even with power there is that aspect of her psyche that draws her towards the male. The twists and turns of the relationships between the modern male and modern female is brought out clearly in the movie “Knocked Up” directed by Jude Apatow. At one time they realize their differences and another they realize that they need each other. In a funny way the male protagonist is forced to look for work to support in family. It is funny how the male protagonist and the female protagonist seek their own ways without realizing that they need to contribute 50-50 towards the relationship (Apatow, 2007). The male on the other hand realizes that the period for exerting his dominance on the female is over and it is time for him to approach the relationship with love rather than to seek dominance over the female. Throughout such comedies the audience is aware of the reconciliatory moment for both parties and actually anticipates the moment. However, the audience is not aware of the twists and turns as every moment in the comedy is unpredictable. The 50-50 sharing is not the goal of either party but upon realization that they have to live together bound by love each party willingly surrenders their respective 50% of the power. In the movie “Amelie” the female protagonist dedicates her life to helping people achieve happiness without the realization that the male protagonist is watching her. As fate brings them together in a funny way they both bring happiness to each other. They contribute 50-50 to the love and they each get 100% love and happiness.
In his book “Laughing Out Loud” Andrew Horton brings out some important considerations when writing a comedy or a script to a comedy movie or TV show. Horton manages to capture some of the essential ingredients that draw humor and laughter from individuals. One of the ingredients is the element of surprise. Surprise is an important tool since it catches the audience off guard and elicits the kind of laughter that is accompanied by a carnival mood and happiness. The surprise should come in the midst of a serious moment that allows the writer to change some plastic and mechanical aspect into a smooth and appealing humor. The ability of a writer to turn an apparently mechanical word or scenario into a humorous moment that elicits laughter defines the mastery of the writer in comedy writing. Another aspect of laughter that s important and is emphasized by Horton is the ability to reverse the gender roles in a humorous way. Reversal of gender roles is a tool that has been used by many comedians to bring out laughter. The general realization is that such reversals usually lead to conflicts where the male and the female engage in futile competition in an attempt to outperform each other. The general realization is that there a lot of twists and turns that the writer can manipulate to bring out aspects that people rarely speak openly about. Horton also manages to emphasize on the important role played by sexual aspects in the bringing out of humor. Sex is carnival in nature and talented writers usually manage to bring out the humor in sex without being offensive to either gender or to children. The ability to display such aspects openly and boldly is also surprising to the audience in a manner that it elicits laughter.
Laughter has often been considered as medicine due to its ability to rejuvenate individuals and improve their health. The various laughter theories have managed to bring out some important aspects of laughter especially the association of laughter with carnivals and dances. The general realization is that laughter also has an important sexual role because it manages to bring men and women together in a way that cannot be achieved through other means. The general realization is that the intimacy and the ease with which laughter manages to bring men and women nurtures love and attraction and in most instances even acts as foreplay. Various aspects of laughter have been brought out in movies and other forms of literature and the general realization is that they share some important aspects that have promoted the developments achieved in the studies concerning laughter. Most authors of comedies either knowingly or unknowingly have mastered the art of laughter or used it to bring humor to the audience and to the readers. The studies related to laughter have managed to help writers to sharpen their skills and improve the kind of humor they present to the audience. Much of the current comedies are characterized by intelligence, mastery and creativity.