Thursday 4 April 2019

Writing for Laughs

By Georgia Duplooy 

In this, the last semester of my final year, I took a new module called 'Writing for Laughs.' On this module, we explored comedy in its various genres - including short fiction, poetry, stand-up and sit-coms. We looked at, discussed and applied a range of theories about the nature of comedy and laughter, such as the 'Incongruity Theory,' 'Superiority Theory' and 'Relief Theory.' This latter suggests that we sometimes laugh when a period of mental strain has ended - for example, a type of hysterical joy akin to the feeling of submitting an essay you agonised over. Each week would then also focus on a comedic genre or era of comedy, and we had many opportunities to try our hand at these genres and share our ideas with our peers. 

Despite our class being small, it was certainly an enthusiastic one, with debates ranging from  "can we laugh at stereotypes?" to "what makes Brooklyn Nine-Nine so popular?" In short, for the majority of the group, myself included, this was their favourite class of the term as we tackled social issues, watched funny clips on Youtube and delved into philosophical debates all connected to the topic of laughter. 

Ironically we learnt - or perhaps it confirmed our previous suspicions - that laughter has as much to do with comedy as it does tragedy, as seen in Charlie Chaplin’s parodying of Hitler in The Great Dictator. Whether you can laugh at these types of comical caricatures or not, there was a comedian or genre that everyone enjoyed - and my personal favourite was comic poetry. To give you a taste of the scope of comedy and nonsensical humour that you can have fun with in class, here is a poem I wrote for the oral presentation:

To my arch enemy, the freezer

You wail and buzz, 
And man, what’s the fuss?
You’re an inanimate object that feels no pain. 
Yet you screech in my ear, whenever I’m near, 
and my patience is starting to wane.
Morning, noon and night – it’s like you do it out of spite, 
and I can hear you through the kitchen door. 
So with a throbbing head 
and my good mood long since dead, 
I unplug you and suffer no more.  

About the author
Georgia Duplooy is a final-year English BA student and a Creative Writing enthusiast. 

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