A Journal for Western Man

 

An Analysis of the Various Kinds of Humor:

Humor Through Coincidence and

Mutually Reinforcing Events

G. Stolyarov II

Issue CXI - June 30, 2007

-----------------------------------

Principal Index

-----------------------------------

Old Superstructure

-----------------------------------

Old Master Index

-----------------------------------

Contributors

-----------------------------------

The Rational Business Journal

-----------------------------------

Forum

-----------------------------------

Yahoo! Group

-----------------------------------

Gallery of Rational Art

-----------------------------------

Online Store

-----------------------------------

Henry Ford Award

-----------------------------------

Johannes Gutenberg Award

-----------------------------------

CMFF: Fight Death

-----------------------------------

Eden against the Colossus

-----------------------------------

A Rational Cosmology

-----------------------------------

Implied Consent

-----------------------------------

Links

-----------------------------------

Mr. Stolyarov's Articles on Helium.com

-----------------------------------

Mr. Stolyarov's Articles on Associated Content

-----------------------------------

Mr. Stolyarov's Articles on GrasstopsUSA.com

-----------------------------------

Submit/Contact

-----------------------------------

Statement of Policy

-----------------------------------

 

When a given series of events happens to be aligned (or misaligned) in a highly unlikely manner, such a situation, again, a departure from the conventional or expected, may be a cause for humor.

In an episode of The Simpsons, Sideshow Bob attempts to make his way through the deck of a yacht and steps on a rake. He shudders and continues on. Seconds later, he steps on another rake, and shudders in precisely the same manner as previously. This repeats for about a dozen times, with Sideshow Bob's mistake and reaction remaining constant, as if he were oblivious to all of his prior encounters with rakes.

Such a situation would likely never occur in reality (nor would a dozen rakes be scattered on a yacht in close proximity to each other), and thus is an extremely bizarre situation meriting the designation, "humorous." Wile E. Coyote encounters a similar series of unfortunate coincidences, as he always happens to run off tall cliffs when chasing the Road Runner.

In William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, a series of "experiments" with magic flowers creates a "love square" at one point, where
Helena loves Demetrius, Demetrius loves Hermia, Hermia loves Lysander, and Lysander loves Helena, but none of the loves is reciprocated, which is a highly unlikely scenario in reality. In real life, one does not typically expect the "perfect misfortune" to occur, but in a humorous situation, circumstances arrange themselves so as to produce one precisely.

Unrealistically fortunate coincidences can also be an illustration of this kind of humor. In an episode of Pinky and the Brain, Brain is attempting to win artistic fame by painting a donut as part of an already cliché artistic movement called "Donutism." However, as the art critics are walking by to inspect the various paintings, Pinky accidentally squirts paint over Brain's painting, leading the critics to consider the result an artistic masterpiece, thereby triggering the rise of the great "Pinkasso" to artistic fame. The Pinky and the Brain series is replete with humor through coincidence, as bizarre fortuitous circumstances permit Brain to almost take over the world, and a similarly ridiculous coincidence always thwarts his plan just as it is about to come to fruition.

By departing from the statistically prevalent regularities observed in reality, humor through coincidence shows audiences a world that (within the parameters of the humorous work) is possible, but highly unlikely. It enables them to get a laugh by recognizing how absurd circumstances could be if a given lineup of individually conceivable events happened to occur.

G. Stolyarov II is a science fiction novelist, independent philosophical essayist, poet, amateur mathematician, composer, contributor to Enter Stage Right, Le Quebecois Libre,  Rebirth of Reason, and the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Senior Writer for The Liberal Institute, weekly columnist for GrasstopsUSA.com, and Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator, a magazine championing the principles of reason, rights, and progress. Mr. Stolyarov also publishes his articles on Helium.com and Associated Content to assist the spread of rational ideas. His newest science fiction novel is Eden against the Colossus. His latest non-fiction treatise is A Rational Cosmology. His most recent play is Implied Consent. Mr. Stolyarov can be contacted at gennadystolyarovii@yahoo.com.

This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA’s Statement of Policy.

Click here to return to TRA's Issue CXI Index.

Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here..

Read Mr. Stolyarov's new comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's new four-act play, Implied Consent, a futuristic intellectual drama on the sanctity of human life, here.