The European Journal of Humour Research

Vol 2, No 3 (2014)

Humour and enjoyment reducers in cinema and theatre comedy

Arie Sover


In this research, I am trying to define a new concept which I shall call Enjoyment Reducer, referring to verbal or visual content, incorporated into comic situations, which may offend or disturb the viewer’s enjoyment. There are comic situations that are only partially enjoyable and, at times, even cause embarrassment to the point of adversely affecting our enjoyment. These types of comic situations include what I term Enjoyment Reducers since they operate contrary to the function for which the comic situations were intended, which is to cause the viewer enjoyment. It should be noted that practically every comic situation includes Enjoyment Reducers because they are based on incongruities which disrupt our normal order or values. The fact that we laugh at humorous situations means that their enjoyable effect is stronger than the Enjoyment Reducers’ effect. Additionally, Enjoyment Reducers are both culture-dependent and contingent upon the viewer’s personality traits. Therefore, what one person perceives as an Enjoyment Reducer might be understood differently by another. The research findings reveal various types of Enjoyment Reducers that relate to human values, prohibitions and taboos. In addition, I will refer to another concept that is quite known, Enjoyment Enhancers, which might shed light on the main focus of the present research, which is Enjoyment Reducers. This research focuses mainly on comedy film, although the results are also relevant to theatre and all types of comic shows.


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