4 - Glossary: The 45 Techniques of Humor
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 January 2023
The 45 Techniques of Humor
As the result of the research I conducted many years ago, on the techniques of humor, on what “makes us laugh,” I came up with 45 techniques that, I argue, generate humor in everything from jokes and cartoons to dramatic comedies. I wrote a book, The Art of Comedy Writing, in which I use these 45 techniques to analyze dramatic comedies (plays) from Roman times to the present. When I finished my research, I had 45 techniques of humor, found in the tables that follow, that I soon realized could be classified in 4 ways: humor based on language, logic, identity and action. Visual aspects of comedy are covered in various techniques involving identity.
Then I enumerated them to make it easier to apply them to texts.
Techniques numbered and in alphabetical order
In my analysis of Shakespeare's play, I will offer examples of the 45 techniques that, I argue, generate humor, mirthful laughter and pleasure in his works. I offer a more detailed analysis (and examples) of the 45 techniques below. When we critique literary works (or in the current jargon “texts”) we use the term “style” to represent what is distinctive and personal in an author's writing. We can also use the word “voice” to stand for the same thing. For great authors, this style or voice is easily recognizable; it has to do with how they use language, with their tone, and with how authors infuse their philosophy and knowledge about life into their works. Some authors adopt what might be described as “comedic style,” namely the techniques they use to generate mirthful laughter. To determine comedic style, we have to know something about the techniques of humor, the subject of this chapter.
I believe that most of these techniques are self-explanatory, but I will briefly explain how I interpret each term, and, in most cases, offer examples. I suggest that the choices an author makes from the techniques and the way an author uses them allow us to define an author's style and understand the humor in a more granular way than is possible with the “why” theories of humor.
There are several things about my list of techniques that should be considered:
I have listed as techniques satire and parody, which many critics see as styles or genres rather than techniques.
- Shakespeare’s <i>The Comedy of Errors</i>A Psycho-Semiotic Analysis, pp. 29 - 64Publisher: Anthem PressPrint publication year: 2022