Comedy is a sort of humor since it also has to do with looking at things from a distance. Comedy is in many ways a rather cruel amusement. Most of the time we tend to laugh at people that are falling and getting beat up or getting tricked or ridiculed and so on.
But because of that distance we don’t feel compassion with the victims. If we would we wouldn’t be able to laugh at is since compassion kills comedy.
Henri Bergson focuses his view on comedy on the mechanical and automatic aspects of movement. He thinks that what is funny with someone slipping on a banana peel is the movement itself. It is when the movements continue statically even though the circumstances have changed; in this case the slipping person continues to walk as if there was no banana peel and therefor he falls.
Keith Johnston opposes this idea saying that what makes the comedy is when the person slipping on the banana peel loses his status. Therefore it is funnier to watch a president slip that a beggar.
Both of them takes for granted that no one gets hurt, since our compassion victimizes the person and consequently takes away the comedy.
To me it is the loss of balance and the fight back to dignity or harmony both literally and metaphorical that creates the comedy. The actual slipping is not funny, neither is the falling. It is the struggle back to balance. How we deal with the fall is what creates comedy.
That is also one of the reasons why it is funnier when the president falls then when the beggar does. The president has much more prestige invested to lose. His fall doesn’t end when he regain his balance physically. His fall in dignity is much greater than his physical fall, since his investment in it is much bigger.
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