Black Humor in America

2112 WordsApr 2, 20069 Pages
Black Humor One of the most underappreciated and unrecognized forms of comedy is black humor. Black humor often deals with events that are not often associated with other forms of comedy, such as war, murder, insanity and death. The main reason that this form of comedy is so underappreciated is that it requires some thinking on the part of the audience and many people are not willing to do that. The types of humor that are popular today do not require much thinking and can be characterized as one-liners. However, black humor has been used as an effective means of satire usually towards a tragic event. One of the biggest misconceptions about black humor is that it involves race. Black humor is not a form of African American humor…show more content…
Even though this is such a great model of black comedy, Joseph Heller said that he was not aware that it would be funny when he wrote it (Catch-22, Computer). In the story, Catch-22 is a military rule that employs circular logic. An example of this is the rule that deals with avoiding combat missions: One may only be excused from flying bombing missions on the grounds of insanity; one must assert one's insanity to be excused on this basis; one who requests to be excused is presumably in fear for his life. This is taken to be proof of his sanity, and he is therefore obliged to continue flying missions; one who is truly insane presumably would not make the request. He therefore would continue flying missions, even though as an insane person he could of course be excused from them simply by asking. (Catch-22, Computer) The main themes in Heller's novel are paradox and contradiction. He used his novel as a way to show the absurdity of war and to protest World War II. Another author, Kurt Vonnegut wrote Slaughterhouse Five in 1969 as an analysis of the human condition from an uncommon perspective, using time travel as a plot device and the bombing of Dresden in World War II, which Vonnegut witnessed, as a starting point (Slaughter, wikipedia). The humor in this book comes from Vonnegut's downplay of human mortality. He uses the phrase "so it goes" whenever dying is mentioned. Much of
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