Studying Humor

Though I enjoyed comedy in the past, I never sought it out like I might have done an action film, or a good novel. This has changed. Over the last years I have started to go to stand up comedy, watched it online and borrow DVDs. I have listened to topical news comedy and game show laughter-making on the radio. Perhaps the highlight and the most jam-packed chuckle hunting time during this last year was attending the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (EFF) for just over 3 days as part of our holiday in which we saw 10 live comedy performances. Almost too much laughter.

I subjected myself to this new hobby because I wrote my MA dissertation relating theology and politics to humour. There I tried to work out what the role of laughter and comedy has in the interrelationship of God, the political and a better society. It’s sort of a step toward a theology of laughter.

For all the hilarity of the year-long research project I am not much happier or filled with joy. Also, sadly given that the jester is often called the conscience of society, I don’t have a clearer understanding of the ills in our culture either. Though I do now know that wit and humour will allow you to get away with a multitude of sins and let ideas sneak by walls of defense that would otherwise well and truly block any change of opinion the shrewd jester might be looking for.

The other surprising effect of my consumption of comedy is that there are times I am saddened because of it. That’s not what comedy should, do is it? Don’t misunderstand. While consuming comedy (because that’s usually what we do when taking in a show) I usually laugh a lot. I enjoy it and will continue to enjoy it, but comedy doesn’t always make us joyful. It is often powerfully cynical and doesn’t offer hope, solace or real mirth.

I will be writing about various aspects of comedy and laughter on this blog, as a part of the ongoing work and hope to generate some discussion about the topic. Hopefully it will be thoughtful. At times it will be a matter of reviewing a show, or aggregating comments and interesting articles that come up in the press from time to time.

Here are a couple more thoughts: Stand-Up Comedy, Docu-Cause Comedy, Laughing at Helplessness.

Please point me in the right direction.

5 Responses to Studying Humor

  1. Pingback: Stand Up, Comedy. « Fiction and the Reading Public

  2. David S Muir says:

    Hi Laure I think T.S Eliot’s book on cats is a delicious piece of writing which explores the nature of the domestic cat in all its complexity with an impish and intelligently tasteful humour.
    Christopher Smart’s poem “My Cat Geoffrey” is so gently funny too. I think humour can be a source of good as well as a source of evil,everything of mankind is tainted since the fall and humour must be reclaimed and proclaimed as the joy it sometimes can be.Tommy Cooper for example was a delight to watch and never ever put down anyone,Jerry Lewis was really funny too,without any mockery or foul mouthed rubbish.Humour can be redemptive too.

  3. Sheila says:

    Hello, how’d you get on with the theology of laughter?

    • Lauri Moyle says:

      I finished my MA thesis on the subject and now am thinking about what to do with the research. If you have suggestions I am all ear.

  4. Sheila says:

    Hi, not sure about suggestions but I’m researching personality types in the Anglican church and the use of humour in liturgy/preaching. I’ve read your blog and have found the content perceptive. Jesus and humour, no problem at all -if one can shed the Renaissance and the Reformation as reading lenses. Chat via email?

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