Incongruous, Approrpriate, Spurious

Elliott Oring (California State University, Los Angeles, emeritus)

I have employed the notion of appropriate incongruity as central to understanding how jokes are structured to produce amusement. But the analysis of jokes based on this concept, while very useful, has limitations. (1) It is necessarily post hoc. (2) It is incomplete. There is something additional underlying how the appropriateness of an incongruity is established—spuriousness. It is not always clear how a spuriously appropriate incongruity resides within a joke. Such problems of analysis are explored with specific examples.

Part of 05-02 Folk Humor, De- and Re-Centered, Friday, October 14, 10:30 am–12:30 pm