McGraw’s studies have led him to endorse something called the benign-violation theory, which holds that “humor only occurs when something seems wrong, unsettling, or threatening (i.e., a violation), but simultaneously seems okay, acceptable, or safe (i.e., benign.)” The form this takes in most jokes and comic situations is to begin with the threat of a violation of some sort and save the uneasiness this causes by its turning benign at its end.
Posts Tagged: humor
Memoirist (and former editor-at-large of McSweeney’s) Sean Wilsey talks to The Atlantic about his essay collection, More Curious, and why humor writing resonates:
I think there’s something dishonest about writing that isn’t funny. I can’t engage with a piece of work without an element of humor to it.
This is the biggest thing, we gotta appeal to sesquicentennials. You know who I’m talkin’ about, these youngsters that have been coming of age in the 1910s and 1920s. They’re obsessed with what’s current and modern. They have at least one telephone in the home.
The latest installment of The Toast’s delicious “Children’s Stories Made Horrific” series, we are gleeful to report, takes on Le Petit Prince. Featuring quotes like “I drew him my hunger and my thirst. It had long teeth, and a long throat” and “It is such a secret place, the land of tears,” Mallory Ortberg perverts every great aphorism while perfectly mimicking the doe-eyed tone of the original book....more
It’s Friday! And it’s the summer! Are you sitting in your cubicle feeling the same joy Kassia Miller writes about at McSweeney’s?
And when it’s summer in the office, I get to break out all my favorite summer clothes: my lighter-weight wool pants, conservative button-up shirts with cap sleeves instead of long sleeves, and my sandals.
Debuting what is surely one of the longer titles in literary history, Bethany Billman has published a piece called, “Lost Scenes from Generic Hipster Indie Romance Films Found in 2076 During a Museum Restoration of an Old MacBook Air and Subsequently Adapted for the Stage During Heritage Week at a Camp for 7th and 8th Graders Later That Summer.” It may not tell us much about 2076, but we are always grateful for the chance to refine our definition of “hipster....more
It’s sometimes hard to imagine the life of the road-tarer or the elephant waste remover. Here’s to an unsung hero the world wouldn’t be the same without.
Point is, no matter how long I been doing this or how I got into it people just think I grab any old thrift-shop rag and casually fold up a doubly slipped reef knot onto Steve’s mic stand, hand it to him, and I’m done.
What does a satire by Veronica Geng have in common with Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment? What do either have in common with Gilbert Godfried’s famous performance of “The Aristocrats” a few weeks after September 11? And what do any of those have in common with the Philogelos, a book commonly described as the oldest surviving joke book?...more
From Raging Bull to Newsies, Adam Wilson (mis)remembers the NY movies he’s seen....more
Fine, you caught us: it’s a McSweeney’s thing. In one sense, these mock-Aesop fables show just how untranslatable the morality of antiquity is to the modern, post-Enlightenment subject. In another sense, they’re just plain funny.
When the winter came, the Ant had plenty of corn from the stores he had collected in the summer.
Since you already live in a shack, scratch out “S.” It would be nice to move on to bigger, or at least better, things. But also scratch out “M” — you’re an adult now, and it’s time to adjust your expectations....more
It’s lovely to be wanted, and then it isn’t. You start to wonder what they want you for–the audience, the men. If it’s even about you. If all I am, despite my many professional and artistic roles, is a woman who will make you pie....more
The New York Comics & Picture-Story Symposium is a weekly forum for discussing the tradition and future of text/image work. Open to the public, it meets Tuesday nights from 7 to 9 PM EST in New York City....more
★★★★★ (3 out of 5)
Hello, and welcome to my week-by-week review of everything in the world. Today I am reviewing Instagram....more
Hello, and welcome to my week-by-week review of everything in the world. Today I am reviewing Toucan Sam....more
Thank you all for coming here today. It is with a heavy heart that I admit to my colleagues, to my constituents, and to the public, that I did indeed do that thing I was accused of doing. Boy did I do it....more
You can probably guess that we at the Rumpus disagree, since we have a whole feature devoted to Funny Women (plus we live in the real world, rather than Misogynist Fantasyland, where women have never, ever rejected Christopher Hitchens or Adam Carolla, and always laugh at their jokes)....more
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
A Bad Idea I’m About to Do.
I Feel Bad About My Neck.
The titles of comedy books almost make a good blog post just by themselves. But if you want to learn more about books to laugh to, check out this Splitsider list, “The Ultimate Comedy Library.” It includes fiction, nonfiction, memoir, oral history, and an afterword by God....more
GIF connoisseurs and fanfic devotees, all that effort you’ve put into polishing your blog to a perfect gleam might finally pay off.
Chronicle Books is looking for the next great humor book, and they want you to pitch them via Tumblr....more
“Laughs were out, torture porn was in.” Colin Bateman wonders what happened to humor in crime fiction....more
“But there is another issue, too: one for which you can’t blame publishers or booksellers. The thing about being funny is that it’s really hard.
“It’s a lot harder than being serious. It requires wit, grace, agility, sensitivity; it requires knowing how hard to push and when to stop on a dime.”...more
“The affect, here, stems from the naive individual’s skewed encounter with systems larger than himself, an encounter which, reprised again and again, plays out Bergson’s first rule of comedy: that life should be reshaped into a self-repeating mechanism (it’s no coincidence that so much slapstick involves cars: in Bergson’s terms, automobiles are automatically funny).”
At 3 a.m....more
“I’d been thinking about writing a book on genocide for some time, but the project really kicked off about a year-and-a-half ago, around the time my wife told me she was pregnant with our second child.
Naturally, I thought about the Holocaust....more
Incapable of making a good cup of tea, Barbara Gupta asks her colleague Meena Patel to teach her how to make Chai, not the pre-sweetened Starbucks kind that she loves so much, but the real thing, like the Chai that was served to her when buying overpriced textiles while vacationing in Coldcutta, I mean Calcutta, I mean Kolkata....more
A new and heralded collection of short stories digs to the heart of obsession, isolation, and strangeness....more
Classicist Mary Beard has discovered a joke book from the 4th century AD, filled with rib-ticklers from the late Roman Empire. Just like today, the old egghead is a source of tremendous humor, along with other frequently targeted figures of fun, such as eunuchs (of course), and people with hernias....more