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Comic Relief

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

Comic relief is commonly defined as the use of humor in parts of a serious or nonhumorous text, in particular in tragedy or dramatic texts, to relieve the tension or dark mood of the main narrative. Comic relief is not to be confused with tragicomedy, which is a tragedy with a happy ending or which mixes tragic and comedic elements. Likewise, comic relief should not be confused with the widespread use of humor and irony in postmodern literature, in which the humor or irony serve to set the tone of the narrative and are an integral part of the narrative's setting. This entry gives examples of comic relief and discusses its purposes.

Examples of comic relief can be found in almost all literary genres. The ...

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