Unit two

‘I say, I say, I say’



The incongruity theory

The context for humour is crucial for determining whether an individual finds something amusing or not. Even so, it is possible to examine the features of language that have the potential to make people laugh. The incongruity theory focuses on the element of surprise. It states that humour is created out of a conflict between what is expected and what actually occurs in the joke. This accounts for the most obvious feature of much humour: an ambiguity or double meaning, which deliberately misleads the audience, followed by a punchline.

‘Do you believe in clubs for young people?’ ‘Only when kindness fails.’

(W.C. Fields)

It is reasonable to understand the word ‘clubs’ in the sense of ‘leisure ...

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