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Rocket clouds

1. Definition: an imitation of characters of a lower type. It consists of some defect or ugliness which is not painful or destructive.

2. E.g.: the comic mask, which is ugly and destrutive, but does not imply pain

3. Characteristics

4. 1) The comic does not exist outside the realm of what is strictly HUMAN.

5. E.g.: you may laugh at an animal, but only because you have detected in it some human attitude or expression.

6. 2) The absence of feeling usually accompanies laughter. Indifference is its natural environment, for laughter has no greater foe than emotion.

7. 3) The comic demands something like a momentary anesthesia of the heart. Its appeal is to intelligence.

8. 4) Laughter appears to stand in need of an echo: our laughter is always the laughter of a group. You would hardly appreciate the comic if you felt yourself isolated from others.

9. 5) To understand laughter, we must put it back to its natural environment: society; and we must determine the utility of its function: a social one.

10. Laughter must answer to certain requirements of life in common. It must have a SOCIAL signification.

11. The comic element in situations

12. 1) Repetition: repetition of situations acted out on the stage. They are more laughable in proportion as the scene repeated is more complex and more naturally introduced.

13. 2) Inversion: if you reverse the situation and invert the roles, you obtain a comic scene.

14. E.g.: a child presuming to teach its parents; a character who lays a trap in which he is first to be caught.

15. 3) The reciprocal interference of series: a situation is invariably comic when it belongs to simultaneously to two altogether independent series of events and is capable of being interpreted in two entirely different meanings at the same time.

16. The equivocal situation is indeed one which permits of two different meanings at the same time, the one merely plausible, which is put forward by the actors, the other a real one, which is given by the public.

17. The comic in words

18. Distinction between comic EXPRESSED and comic CREATED by language. The former could, if necessary, be translated from one language into another, though at the cost of losing the greater proportion of its significance. But it is generally impossible to translate the latter.

19. Distinction between the WITTY and the COMIC. A word is said to be comic when it makes us laugh at the person who utters it, and witty when it makes us laugh either at a third party or at ourselves.

20. The comic in characters

21. Comedy can only begin at the point where our neighbour´s personality ceases to affect us. It begins, with a growing callousness to social life. Laughter is a kind of social ¨ragging¨. It is the trifling faults of our fellow-men that makes us laugh.

22. 3 conditions to make us laugh: Unsociability on the performer, Insensibility on the spectator, and automatism: what is essentially laughable is what is done automatically. Absentmindedness is always comical.

23. To depict characters, that is to say, general types, is the object of high-class comedy. Not only does comedy give us general types, but it is the ONLY ONE of all arts that aims at the general.