An Anatomy of Humor

Transaction Publishers
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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.

“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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Additional Information

Publisher
Transaction Publishers
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Pages
192
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ISBN
9781412817158
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Language
English
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Genres
Humor / General
Language Arts & Disciplines / Communication Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Just as a distinctive literary voice or style is marked by the ease with which it can be parodied, so too can specific aspects of humor be unique. Playwrights, television writers, novelists, cartoonists, and film scriptwriters use many special technical devices to create humor. Just as dramatic writers and novelists use specific devices to craft their work, creators of humorous materials—from the ancient Greeks to today’s stand-up comics—have continued to use certain techniques in order to generate humor. In The Art of Comedy Writing, Arthur Asa Berger argues that there are a relatively limited number of techniques—forty-five in all—that humorists employ. Elaborating upon his prior, in-depth study of humor, An Anatomy of Humor, in which Berger provides a content analysis of humor in all forms—joke books, plays, comic books, novels, short stories, comic verse, and essays—The Art of Comedy Writing goes further. Berger groups each technique into four basic categories: humor involving identity such as burlesque, caricature, mimicry, and stereotype; humor involving logic such as analogy, comparison, and reversal; humor involving language such as puns, wordplay, sarcasm, and satire; and finally, chase, slapstick, and speed, or humor involving action. Berger claims that if you want to know how writers or comedians create humor study and analysis of their humorous works can be immensely insightful. This book is a unique analytical offering for those interested in humor. It provides writers and critics with a sizable repertoire of techniques for use in their own future comic creations. As such, this book will be of interest to people inspired by humor and the creative process—professionals in the comedy field and students of creative writing, comedy, literary humor, communications, broadcast/media, and the humanities.
Just as a distinctive literary voice or style is marked by the ease with which it can be parodied, so too can specific aspects of humor be unique. Playwrights, television writers, novelists, cartoonists, and film scriptwriters use many special technical devices to create humor. Just as dramatic writers and novelists use specific devices to craft their work, creators of humorous materials—from the ancient Greeks to today’s stand-up comics—have continued to use certain techniques in order to generate humor. In The Art of Comedy Writing, Arthur Asa Berger argues that there are a relatively limited number of techniques—forty-five in all—that humorists employ. Elaborating upon his prior, in-depth study of humor, An Anatomy of Humor, in which Berger provides a content analysis of humor in all forms—joke books, plays, comic books, novels, short stories, comic verse, and essays—The Art of Comedy Writing goes further. Berger groups each technique into four basic categories: humor involving identity such as burlesque, caricature, mimicry, and stereotype; humor involving logic such as analogy, comparison, and reversal; humor involving language such as puns, wordplay, sarcasm, and satire; and finally, chase, slapstick, and speed, or humor involving action. Berger claims that if you want to know how writers or comedians create humor study and analysis of their humorous works can be immensely insightful. This book is a unique analytical offering for those interested in humor. It provides writers and critics with a sizable repertoire of techniques for use in their own future comic creations. As such, this book will be of interest to people inspired by humor and the creative process—professionals in the comedy field and students of creative writing, comedy, literary humor, communications, broadcast/media, and the humanities.
From their inception, video games quickly became a major new arena of popular entertainment. Beginning with very primitive games, they quickly evolved into interactive animated works, many of which now approach film in terms of their visual excitement. But there are important differences, as Arthur Asa Berger makes clear in this important new work. Films are purely to be viewed, but video involves the player, moving from empathy to immersion, from being spectators to being actively involved in texts. Berger, a renowned scholar of popular culture, explores the cultural significance of the expanding popularity and sophistication of video games and considers the biological and psychoanalytic aspects of this phenomenon.

Berger begins by tracing the evolution of video games from simple games like Pong to new, powerfully involving and complex ones like Myst and Half-Life. He notes how this evolution has built the video industry, which includes the hardware (game-playing consoles) and the software (the games themselves), to revenues comparable to the American film industry. Building on this comparison, Berger focuses on action-adventure games which, like film and fiction, tell stories but which also involve culturally important departures in the conventions of narrative. After defining a set of bipolar oppositions between print and electronic narratives, Berger considers the question of whether video games are truly interactive or only superficially so, and whether they have the potential to replace print narratives in the culture at large.

A unique dimension of the book is its bio-psycho-social analysis of the video game phenomenon. Berger considers the impact of these games on their players, from physical changes (everything from neurological problems to obesity) to psychological consequences, with reference to violence and sexual attitudes. He takes these questions further by examining three enormously popular games-Myst/Riven, Tomb Raider, and Half-Life-for their attitudes toward power, gender, violence, and guilt. In his conclusion, Berger concentrates on the role of violence in video games and whether they generate a sense of alienation in certain addicted players who become estranged from family and friends. Accessibly written and broad-ranging in approach, Video Games offers a way to interpret a major popular phenomenon.

Arthur Asa Berger is professor of broadcast and electronic communication arts at San Francisco State University, where he has taught since 1965. He is the author of more than one hundred articles and forty books on media, popular culture, humor, and everyday life.
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