Tickling Funny Bones: Unraveling the Science of Laughter with the Benign Violation Theory

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Tickling Funny Bones: Unraveling the Science of Laughter with the Benign Violation Theory

What an exciting discussion! It seems that Kalib Warren has developed a fascinating theory of humor named the benign violation theory. It’s quite an illuminating perspective on how we perceive humor, especially for those exploring the world of stand-up comedy or engaging in online comedy improv classes. Here are the key learning points from this discourse:


  1. Benign Violation Theory: This theory postulates that humor arises when a situation is perceived as a violation, is benign, and both these elements are processed simultaneously. A violation refers to anything that challenges how we think the world ought to be. On the other hand, benign refers to an element of harmlessness or acceptability.
  2. Types of Violations: Violations can be diverse and numerous. They can range from physical violations like tickling or play-fighting to linguistic ones like puns or wordplay. Such violations can be a powerful tool in the arsenal of a stand-up comedian.
  3. Making a Violation Benign: There are several ways to make a violation benign and hence, humorous. One approach is distancing, such as making it happen to someone else or a long time ago. Another approach is using an alternative interpretation of the violation to make it acceptable. Understanding these strategies can elevate your online comedy improv classes.
  4. Relativity of Humor: The perception of what’s benign or threatening can vary greatly among different people. For instance, people who aren’t strongly committed to the sanctity of religious norms might find certain violations funnier than those who are. It’s a reminder that humor can be highly subjective, an essential lesson for stand-up comedy students.
  5. When Humor Fails: The benign violation theory also explains why some jokes don’t land. If a situation is purely benign (without a violation) or purely a violation (without any benign aspect), it fails to provoke laughter. It’s a critical aspect to keep in mind when crafting your comedy.
  6. Application of the Theory: Real-life examples, like the scenario involving Keith Richards’ peculiar choice concerning his father’s ashes, illustrate how this theory can be applied. Changing the context or adding an element that makes the situation appear acceptable can evoke humor, even in situations that could initially be seen as wrong or upsetting.

The benign violation theory offers fantastic insights into the mechanics of humor. It’s a must-learn for all those taking stand-up comedy classes or online comedy improv courses. After all, understanding why something is funny is an essential step towards being consistently funny yourself. Now, let’s get those laughs rolling!


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