Good Example Of Article Review On Humour
1. Which of the three traditional theories of humour seems most insightful to you - and why? 2. How does Morreall think humour evolved?
3. What do you think of this idea?
1. The Incongruity theory seems most insightful to me because my vision of reasons of laughter coincides with neither superiority feeling nor pressure release. To me, the disappointed expectation is the best reason to laugh so I definitely agree with the dominant part of the world supporting this theory. It is true that while listening to a joke, one enjoys the play of thought and rapidly shifting ideas. I believe that laughter appears together with the incongruity between the perception of a concept and the real objects. The laughter itself is the expression of the incongruity or contradiction.
2. Morreall thinks humor evolved from mock-aggressive play. In fact, the pre-human apes used to make specific grimaces showing mock-aggression. What we know as smiling came from “grin face”, and laughter transformed from “play face”. These signals were used in order to communicate and respond to being chased or bitten playfully. So obviously, the non-verbal expression of humour started from the face. The changes in body organs (moving of the larynx and developing of the pharynx) led to changes of the sound of laughing. Here, the evolution of the sound expression of humor takes place. It is fair to say that humor is a human contemporary rational adaptation to life which makes a person differ from a dog – while it snarls in the face of the potential problem or incongruity, the human being is able to analyze and laugh at the situation.
3. I agree with the idea of the humor’s evolution since apes’ era. The hypothesis that humor is a social experience born in the group explains to me the commonness of laughing with someone and not alone. The evolution of humor explains its link with a face expression and body language. The fact that the humor’s origin lies in mock-aggression explains the today’s playfully aggressive majority of humor.
John Morreall begins his article stating that humor unfairly lacks mentioning by philosophers before the 20th century. Laughter and joking have always had a bad reputation and the association with evil.
In his article, he proposes three theories of humor – Superiority, Relief and Incongruity. The Superiority theory bases on the hypothesis that laughter expresses one’s superiority over others. This theory was widespread for about two millennia. In the 18th century, the Relief and the Incongruity theories appeared. The first one supposes that laughter releases one’s spirits which have built up pressure in the nerves. It means that laughter is one of the products of nervous energy. The Incongruity theory bases on the perception of something incongruous. People get both physical and mental pleasure in laughing.
Analyzing the theories mentioned above, it would be appropriate to consider the practical examples. The Superiority theory can be applied on the established group of people feeling the superiority towards a newcomer who does not know many things. To my opinion, this theory is possible in cases like this (when a person has a possibility to assert oneself). The Relief theory can be applied on the person’s reaction to fear or pain so that laughter follows a tense situation. I am sure every person eventually experienced this kind of laughter, but of course, the theory cannot be applied to the humor in general. The Incongruity theory can be applied on the example of Chihuahua – everyone knows it is a dog but one doesn’t feel like it when he sees it. My point of view is that this type of humor is the most frequent one, and the theory can be applied to the majority of cases when speaking of laughter.
Though reasonable, these theories are not the only ones worth considering – The General Theory of Verbal Humor by Victor Raskin is based on incongruities between the semantic scripts; Detection of mistaken reasoning by Hurley, Dennett and Adams bases on the brain’s ability to detect mistakes in active belief structures; the Misattribution theory by Zillmann and Bryant describes humor as the inability to explain why something is funny. Each of these theories is clever and has an interesting approach but my vision of humor as a phenomenon bases on the commonness of all these theories taken together so that there is no singular theory appropriate for all the cases of laughter. To me, they all are fair and none of them is exceptionally right.
John Morreall proposes the idea of humor providing rest for the soul. Among its benefits, humor is capable of reducing stress and strengthening one’s social bonds. I could give a good example – the person’s state of health becomes much better after good portion of laughing. To show the humor’s positive points, the author compares comedy to tragedy as a philosophy of living. While tragedy’s reaction to incongruities is serious and struggling to death, comedy’s way of dealing with problems is based on adaptability, critical thinking and appreciation of physical pleasures. According to actions of the main characters in the famous theater plays, I would say that the hero in tragedy feels, in comedy – thinks.
Morreall thinks that the function of humor evolved since early humans. Today, such physiological changes as muscle tension and blood pressure are not the result of fear of predators or enemies any more – they are the result of problems connected with work. So the humor’s function today is to reduce the stress, namely decrease muscle tension and heart rate. It is today proved that humor increases the activity of the immune system and plays a positive role in the human health. Humor is psychologically and physically healthy, it teaches to pay attention to language and relish new ways of looking at things. I am sure that the best example demonstrating it is the positive life view appearing thanks to humor – perceiving the world positively it is easier to deal with difficulties. The humorous way of mind helps to enjoy the oddness occurring; thus makes the perspective more rational and abstract.
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