Mikhail Bakhtin and Vulgar Comedy

When it comes to Mikhail Bakhtin, who wrote about people from the renaissance and their view on laughter and the world in large, he has enunciated their understanding and need for Vulgar Comedy, the carnivalesque and the grotesque which is the same today. He did that in his book “Rabelais and his world” where he talks about Carnival, Grotesque Realism and the Grotesque Body among other things.
One of his basic thoughts is about how people at the time did not trust seriousness, which they saw as the language of power, hypocrites and violence. Instead it was in laughter people could meet.
One could sum up a few of his ideas like this (the language might be strange since I have only read Bakhtin in Swedish):

  • The language of the marketplace – T.ex. de muntra ironiska förolämpningar man använder för att knyta oss närmare varandra, grova, skrävlande överdrifter, lustiga svordomar.
  • The material bodily lower – Sexual allusions and references to excrement and urine, delightedness in all bodily openings.
  • The ambivalent view of the world – While the static worldview of the church is an idea of a straight, upwards line that is reaching for heaven as an eternal – and dead – goal, the view of the popular culture was all about nature’s circular resurrection.
  • The popular-festive – Here is the joy, food and drinks, the entertainment, games och playing, erotica and abundance. It is the up-side-downturned world of the Carnival.
  • The gay truth – the truth of laughter – against seriousness stood laughter as the solvent, deride and liberating.