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Absurdist Humor

  • By: Will Noonan
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Closely related to black humor, nonsense, and incongruity, absurdist humor can be understood in broad terms as humor concerned with the absence or refusal of meaning. Etymologically, the term absurd is linked to the musical discord generated absurdo (by a deaf person). In humor, as in nonsense and incongruity, it can be seen as opposed to conventional or serious discourse. While this negative status suggests that the absurd can manifest itself in many ways, it is useful to distinguish between two main strands. First, the rational absurd is concerned with the breakdown of logic and exemplified in the technique of reductio ad absurdum, in which a logical proposition is led to a nonsensical or contradictory conclusion. Second, the existential absurd is concerned with the apparent ...

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