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  • What's the definition of comedy?

  • Thinkers and philosophers from Plato and Aristotle

  • to Hobbes, Freud, and beyond,

  • including anyone misguided enough

  • to try to explain a joke,

  • have pondered it,

  • and no one has settled it.

  • You're lucky you found this video to sort it out.

  • To define comedy, you should first ask

  • why it seems comedy defies definition.

  • The answer's simple.

  • Comedy is the defiance of definition

  • because definitions sometimes need defiance.

  • Consider definition itself.

  • When we define, we use language

  • to set borders around a thing

  • that we've perceived in the whirling chaos of existence.

  • We say what the thing means

  • and fit that in a system of meanings.

  • Chaos becomes cosmos.

  • The universe is translated

  • into a cosmological construct of knowledge.

  • And let's be honest,

  • we need some logical cosmic order,

  • otherwise we'd have pure chaos.

  • Chaos can be rough,

  • so we build a thing that we call reality.

  • Now think about logic and logos,

  • that tight knot connecting a word and truth.

  • And let's jump back to thinking about what's funny,

  • because some people say it's real simple:

  • truth is funny.

  • It's funny because it's true.

  • But that's simplistic.

  • Plenty of lies are funny.

  • Comedic fiction can be funny.

  • Made-up nonsense jibberish is frequently hilarious.

  • For instance, florp --

  • hysterical!

  • And plenty of truths aren't funny.

  • Two plus two truly equals four,

  • but I'm not laughing just because that's the case.

  • You can tell a true anecdote,

  • but your date may not laugh.

  • So, why are some untruths and only some truths funny?

  • How do these laughable truths and untruths

  • relate to that capital-T Truth,

  • the cosmological reality of facts and definitions?

  • And what makes any of them funny?

  • There's a Frenchman who can help,

  • another thinker who didn't define comedy

  • because he expressly didn't want to.

  • Henri Bergson's a French philosopher

  • who prefaced his essay on laughter

  • by saying he wouldn't define "the comic"

  • because it's a living thing.

  • He argued laughter has a social function

  • to destroy mechanical in-elasticity in people's attitudes and behavior.

  • Someone doing the same thing over and over,

  • or building up a false image of themself and the world,

  • or not adapting to reality

  • by just noticing the banana peel on the ground --

  • this is automatism,

  • ignorance of one's own mindless rigidity,

  • and it's dangerous

  • but also laughable

  • and comic ridicule helps correct it.

  • The comic is a kinetic, vital force,

  • or elan vital,

  • that helps us adapt.

  • Bergson elaborates on this idea

  • to study what's funny about all sorts of things.

  • But let's stay on this.

  • At the base of this concept of comedy is contradiction

  • between vital, adaptive humanity

  • and dehumanized automatism.

  • A set system that claims to define reality

  • might be one of those dehumanizing forces

  • that comedy tends to destroy.

  • Now, let's go back to Aristotle.

  • Not Poetics, where he drops a few thoughts on comedy,

  • no, Metaphysics,

  • the fundamental law of non-contradiction,

  • the bedrock of logic.

  • Contradictory statements are not at the same time true.

  • If A is an axiomatic statement,

  • it can't be the case

  • that A and the opposite of A are both true.

  • Comedy seems to live here,

  • to subsist on the illogic

  • of logical contradiction and its derivatives.

  • We laugh when the order we project on the world

  • is disrupted and disproven,

  • like when the way we all act

  • contradicts truths we don't like talking about,

  • or when strange observations we all make

  • in the silent darkness of private thought

  • are dragged into public by a good stand-up,

  • and when cats play piano,

  • because cats that are also somehow humans

  • disrupt our reality.

  • So, we don't just laugh at truth,

  • we laugh at the pleasurable, edifying revelation of flaws,

  • incongruities,

  • overlaps,

  • and outright conflicts

  • in the supposedly ordered system of truths

  • we use to define the world and ourselves.

  • When we think too highly of our thinking,

  • when we think things are true

  • just because we all say they're logos and stop adapting,

  • we become the butt of jokes played on us

  • by that wacky little trickster, chaos.

  • Comedy conveys that destructive, instructive playfulness,

  • but has no logical definition

  • because it acts upon our logic

  • paralogically

  • from outside its finite borders.

  • Far from having a definite definition,

  • it has an infinite infinition.

  • And the infinition of comedy

  • is that anything can be mined for comedy.

  • Thus, all definitions of reality,

  • especially those that claim to be universal,

  • logical,

  • cosmic,

  • capital-T Truth

  • become laughable.

What's the definition of comedy?

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TED-ED】お笑いの定義は?バナナです。- アディソンアンダーソン (【TED-Ed】What's the definition of comedy? Banana. - Addison Anderson)

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    wikiHuang に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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