An Anatomy of Humor

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Overview

Humor permeates every aspect of society and has done so for thousands of years. People experience it daily through television, newspapers, literature, and contact with others. Rarely do social researchers analyze humor or try to determine what makes it such a dominating force in our lives. The types of jokes a person enjoys contribute significantly to the definition of that person as well as to the character of a given society. Arthur Asa Berger explores these and other related topics in An Anatomy of Humor. He shows how humor can range from the simple pun to complex plots in Elizabethan plays.

Berger examines a number of topics—ethnicity, race, gender, politics—each with its own comic dimension. Laughter is beneficial to both our physical and mental health, according to Berger. He discerns a multiplicity of ironies that are intrinsic to the analysis of humor. He discovers as much complexity and ambiguity in a cartoon, such as Mickey Mouse, as he finds in an important piece of literature, such as Huckleberry Finn. An Anatomy of Humor is an intriguing and enjoyable read for people interested in humor and the impact of popular and mass culture on society. It will also be of interest to professionals in communication and psychologists concerned with the creative process.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“This book belongs on the shelf of anyone who appreciates humor. It also belongs in the laboratories of psychological researchers investigating when and how we laugh.”

—T. Cameron Wild, Contemporary Psychology

“This is a significant book, and it will surely have a welcome place in any professional humor library.”

—Don L. F. Nilsen, Humor

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560000860
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/1/1999
  • Pages: 192

Meet the Author

Arthur Asa Berger is professor emeritus of broadcast and electronic communication arts at San Francisco State University. He is the author of numerous articles, book reviews, and books on media, popular culture, humor, and tourism, and he is the series editor of Transaction’s Communication and Mass Culture and Humor series.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Humor, Psyche and Society 1
Pt. 1 Theoretical Concerns
1 A Glossary of the Techniques of Humor: Morphology of the Joke-Tale 15
2 Anatomy of a Joke 57
Pt. 2 Applications
3 The Telephone Pole with the Braided Armpits: Ethnic and Racial Jokes and American Society 65
4 "On Me You Can't Count": An Interpretation of a Jewish Joke with Relevance to the Jewish Question 75
5 Jewish Fools: From the Wise Men of Chelm to Jackie Mason 83
6 Mickey Mouse and Krazy Kat: Of Mice and Men 97
7 Comics and Popular Culture: Not Just Kid's Stuff 107
8 Mark Russell in Buffalo 121
9 A Cool Million 127
10 Twelfth Night: Comedic Techniques and Social Considerations 133
11 Huckleberry Finn as a Novel of the Absurd: Making Sense of an Existentialist Hero 145
12 Healing with Humor: A Laugh a Day Keeps the Doctor Away 155
13 Comedy and Creation: On the Generative Power of Humor 163
Bibliography 175
Names Index 181
Subject Index 185
Jokes and Humorous Texts Index 191
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