Incongruity theory


Incongruity theory is a popular concept in humor theory, suggesting that humor arises from the resolution of an unexpected violation of expectations within a given context. According to , the theory has historical roots dating back to Aristotle, who noted that humor could be elicited by setting up an expectation and then breaking it. However, the simplicity of this explanation can be misleading, as not all surprises or unexpected outcomes result in humor. The key to the incongruity theory, then, lies in the resolution of this incongruity, ensuring that it fits the context of the dialogue or narrative, thereby leading to humor. This understanding goes beyond mere surprise, emphasizing the importance of a fitting resolution that aligns with the overall context 1.

and also discuss this theory, emphasizing that humor often comes from the unexpected violation of an anticipated scenario, but it must be contextually appropriate to be funny. This concept is so foundational that it appears consistently as a natural principle in comedy, where the setup leads to an anticipation and the punchline disrupts this in an amusing way 2.

Incongruity theory further explores why certain scenarios or phrases might be humorous, suggesting that the juxtaposition of incongruent elements, when resolved cleverly, provokes laughter. It forms the backbone of many comedic techniques, making it a central pillar in the study of humor 3.

The Incongruity Theory

Stephen explores the incongruity theory of humor, explaining that it's not just about surprising people, but about the resolution of the incongruity within the context of the story or conversation. He highlights Aristotle's early mention of the theory in his work rhetoric.

Philosophize This!

Episode #145 ... Bergson on Laughter pt. 1 - History