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Funny How?, Sketch Comedy and the Art of Humor

“What makes something funny? Some take this question to be effectively unanswerable, while others turn to comic theory. Funny How? offers a new approach, showing how humor can be analyzed without killing the joke. Alex Clayon writes that the brevity of a sketch or skit and its typical rejection of narrative development make it comedy…

“What makes something funny? Some take this question to be effectively unanswerable, while others turn to comic theory. Funny How? offers a new approach, showing how humor can be analyzed without killing the joke.

Alex Clayon writes that the brevity of a sketch or skit and its typical rejection of narrative development make it comedy concentrate, providing a rich field for exploring how humor works. Focusing on a dozen or so skits and scenes, Clayton shows precisely how sketch comedy appeals to the funny bone and engages our philosophical imagination.

He posits that since humor is about persuading an audience to laugh, it can be understood as a form of rhetoric. Through vivid, highly readable analyses of individual sketches, Clayton argues that Aristotle’s three forms of appeal-logos, the appeal to reason; ethos, the appeal to communality; and pathos, the appeal to emotion-can form the basis for illuminating the inner workings of humor.

He draws on both popular and lesser-known examples from the United States, United Kingdom, and elsewhere, across film and television, from Monty Python’s Flying Circus to Key and Peele, via Saturday Night Live, Airplane!, and Smack the Pony”–

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