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Encyclopedia > Surreal humor

Surreal humour is a form of humour based on bizarre juxtapositions, absurd situations, and nonsense logic. Humour or humor is the ability or quality of people, objects, or situations to evoke feelings of amusement in other people. ... Juxtaposition (noun) is an act or instance of placing two things close together or side by side. ... Absurd can refer to: Look up Absurd in Wiktionary, the free dictionary Absurdism is a philosophy born of Existentialism absurdity, with small a, is a form of Surreal humour Theatre of the Absurd is an artform utilizing the philosophy of Absurdism Absurd (band) is a heavy metal band This is... Nonsense is an utterance or written text in what appears to be a human language or other symbolic system, that does not in fact carry any identifiable meaning. ...

Probably the most common form of surreal humour is the non-sequitur, in which one statement is followed by another with no logical progression, as in the jokes below. Non sequitur is Latin for it does not follow. ... A joke is a short story or short series of words spoken or communicated with the intent of being laughed at or found humorous by the listener or reader. ...

Q: How many surrealists does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Vibrating Norwegian horse box full of sea-cucumbers

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?
A: To understand why seventeen fairies consoled all their kitchen troubles in a yellow rock covered in a stylish freedom fighters dead skin with the phrase 'limbo chocolates for all' engraved in it

Q: Who was the youngest Queen of England?
A: No, that little servant girl cannnot have any of my lucky soup pennies, Mr and Mrs Fellows will go mental

A cow with moose antlers standing on a pole.

Note that the humour in these jokes depend not just on the randomness of the answer, but on the odd juxtaposition of disparate items. Image File history File links Cow-on_pole,_with_horns. ... Image File history File links Cow-on_pole,_with_horns. ...

Surreal humour can also be found in unexpected juxtapositions (such as in the image to the right).

History of Surreal Humour

Humour which we might now consider surreal has been around at least since the nineteenth century. Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass both use illogic and absurdity for humorous effect. Many of Edward Lear's nonsense stories and poems are also basically surreal in approach. Thus, Lear's "The Story of the Four Little Children Who Went Round the World," is filled with contradictory statements and odd images intended to provoke amusement, such as the following: A self-portrait of Lewis Caroll, taken with assistance. ... John Tenniels illustration for A Mad Tea-Party, 1865 Illustration by Arthur Rackham Alices Adventures in Wonderland is a work of childrens literature by the British mathematician and author, Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, written under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. ... Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871) is a work of childrens literature by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), and is the sequel to Alices Adventures in Wonderland. ... Edward Lear, 1812-1888 Eagle Owl, Edward Lear, 1837 Another Edward Lear owl, in his more familiar style Edward Lear (12 May 1812 - 29 January 1888) was an artist, illustrator and writer known for his nonsensical poetry and his limericks, a form which he popularised. ...

"After a time they saw some land at a distance; and when they came to it, they found it was an island made of water quite surrounded by earth. Besides that, it was bordered by evanescent isthmusses with a great Gulf-stream running about all over it, so that it was perfectly beautiful, and contained only a single tree, 503 feet high."

Despite such precursors, the name "surreal" first began to be used to describe a type of aesthetic in the early 20th century. At that time, several avant-garde movements calling themselves, variously, dadaists, surrealists, and futurists began to argue for an art that was random, jarring, and illogical. The goals of these movements were in some sense serious, yet they were also committed to undermining the solemnity and self-satisfaction of the artistic establishment of their day. As a result, much of their art was -- intentionally -- quite funny. For example, in 1917 Marcel Duchamp placed an upside-down, signed urinal in an art exhibit. Duchamp's urinal is now one of the most famous and influential pieces of art in history -- it is also, however, a joke, relying on an unexpected juxtaposition. A work similar to Marcel Duchamps Fountain Avant garde (written avant-garde) is a French phrase, one of many French phrases used by English speakers. ... Dadaism or Dada is a post-World War I cultural movement in visual art as well as literature (mainly poetry), theatre and graphic design. ... Surrealism is an artistic movement and an aesthetic philosophy that aims for the liberation of the mind by emphasizing the critical and imaginative powers of the subconscious. ... This article is about the art movement, futurism. ... Marcel Duchamp. ...

In addition to the avant-garde art movements, early surrealist comedy is found in the satirical and comedic elements of works of modern authors, who like Lear and Carroll, wrote stories which dispensed with the normal rules of logic, be it the dark comedy of Kafka, the stream of consciousness-style writings of James Joyce (and later stream-of-consciousness authors like Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs and Hunter S. Thompson), or the whimsical poetry of Dylan Thomas and E.E. Cummings. Surrealist humour is also found frequently in avant-garde theatre such as the droll Waiting for Godot and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. Humour in the avant garde arts continues to this day. Artists like Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol, Donald Barthelme, Italo Calvino and many others have relied on this technique in their work. Franz Kafka approximately 1917 Franz Kafka (July 3, 1883 in Prague - June 3, 1924 in Vienna) was one of the major German language writers of the 20th century most of whose work was published posthumously. ... In psychology and philosophy stream of consciousness, introduced by William James, is the set of constantly changing inner thoughts and sensations which an individual has while conscious, used as a synonym for stream of thought. ... James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) was an expatriate Irish writer, poet and skiier, widely considered to be one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. ... Jack Kerouac Jack Kerouac (March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969) was an American novelist, writer, poet, artist, and part of the Beat generation. ... William S. Burroughs (1914-1997) William Seward Burroughs II (February 5, 1914 – August 2, 1997) was an American novelist, essayist, social critic and spoken word performer. ... Hunter Stockton Thompson (July 18, 1937 – February 20, 2005) – was an American journalist and author. ... Dylan Marlais Thomas, (October 27, 1914 – November 9, 1953) was a Welsh poet and writer. ... Edward Estlin Cummings (October 14, 1894 - September 3, 1962) was an American poet and writer. ... Waiting for Godot (sometimes subtitled: tragicomedy in 2 acts) is an absurdist play by Samuel Beckett, written in the late 1940s and first published in 1952. ... DVD cover Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead is a humorous, absurdist, tragic and existentialist play by Tom Stoppard, first staged in 1966. ... Yoko Ono on the cover of her album Fly Yoko Ono Lennon (born February 18, 1933) is a Japanese musician and artist who has lived most of her life in the United States. ... Andy Warhol, photographed by Helmut Newton. ... Donald Barthelme (April 7, 1931 - July 23, 1989) was an American author of short fiction and novels. ... Italo Calvino (October 15, 1923 – September 19, 1985) was an Italian writer and novelist. ...

Surrealist humour has played an important role in popular culture, especially since the radio show, The Goon Show. In the 1960s, surrealist humour was combined with counter-culture in movements such as the Youth International Party, Situationism, and Discordianism and in the work of psychedelic musicians such as The Beatles, Frank Zappa, The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Pink Floyd, and Captain Beefheart. DVD of The Last Goon Show of All, aired by the BBC in 1972. ... The 1960s decade refers to the years from 1960 to 1969, inclusive. ... The Youth International Party (whose adherents were known as Yippies, a variant on Hippies) was a highly theatrical political party established in the United States in 1967. ... The Situationist International (SI), an international political and artistic movement, originated in the Italian village of Cosio dArroscia on 28 July 1957 with the fusion of several extremely small artistic tendencies: the Lettrist International, the International movement for an imaginist Bauhaus, and the London Psychogeographical Association. ... Discordianism is a modern, Chaos-based religion founded in either 1958 or 1959. ... Psychedelic music is a musical genre inspired by or attempting to replicate the mind-altering experience of drugs such as cannabis, psilocybin, mescaline, and especially LSD. It is not rigorously defined, and is sometimes interpreted to include everything from Acid Rock and Flower Power music to Hard Rock. ... The Beatles were a pop and rock music group from Liverpool, England, who continue to be held in the very highest regard for their artistic achievements, their huge commercial success, and their groundbreaking role in the history of popular music. ... Frank Vincent Zappa (December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993) was an American composer, guitarist, singer, film director, and satirist. ... The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (more often the Bonzo Dog Band) was the brainchild of the British art-school set of the 1960s. ... Pink Floyd (formed in 1965 in Cambridge, England) is an English rock band, noted for progressive compositions, philosophic lyrics, sonic experimentation, cover art, and elaborate live shows. ... Don Van Vliet (born Don Glen Vliet on January 15, 1941 in Glendale, California), is a musician and painter, best known under the pseudonym Captain Beefheart. ...

But the most influential influence of surrealist humour on popular culture is probably Monty Python, most notably in their Goon Show-influenced TV series, Monty Python's Flying Circus, which featured a more lucid and intricate style of show structure and much more absurdities and non-sequitors than its contemporary, Saturday Night Live. Since the influence of Monty Python, shows that have had humour of a primarily surrealistic nature include later seasons of The Simpsons, the comedy programming of Adult Swim (especially Williams Street shows such as Space Ghost: Coast to Coast, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and 12 oz. Mouse), Spaced and Late Night. Other good examples of more recent surrealist humour can be found in the radio and book series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Terry Pratchett's Discworld book series, numerous graphic novels such as Flaming Carrot, and works of film ranging from Federico Fellini to David Zucker. Numerous websites also involve surreal humor, including Something Awful, White Ninja Comics, Homestar Runner and LickMyJesus.com. The Monty Python troupe in 1970. ... The Goon Show was a hugely popular and extremely influential British radio comedy programme, which was originally produced and broadcast by the BBC from 1951 to 1960 on the BBC Home Service. ... Monty Pythons Flying Circus (aka Flying Circus or MPFC, known during the fourth season as Monty Python) was the popular BBC sketch comedy show from Monty Python. ... Saturday Night Live (SNL) is a weekly late-night 90-minute comedy-variety show based in New York City which has been broadcast by NBC nearly every Saturday night since its debut on October 11, 1975. ... The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening. ... The Adult Swim logo. ... Williams Street is a division of Cartoon Network, which is owned by Turner Broadcasting, an operational unit of Time Warner. ... Space Ghost at his desk Space Ghost: Coast to Coast is a spoof talk show on the cable TV channel, Cartoon Network. ... Aqua Teen Hunger Force (also known as ATHF or simply Aqua Teen) is an American animated television series shown on Cartoon Network as part of its Adult Swim late-night programming block. ... 12 oz. ... Spaced is a British television situation comedy written by and starring Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson, directed by Edgar Wright, and broadcast on Channel 4. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... The cover of the first novel in the Hitchhikers series, from a late 1990s printing. ... Terence David John Pratchett OBE is an English fantasy author (born April 28, 1948, in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England), best known for his Discworld series. ... The Discworld is a series of thirty-four satirical fantasy novels and a number of shorter works by Terry Pratchett set on the Discworld. ... Flaming Carrot Comics is a surrealist comic book by Bob Burden between 1979 and 1993. ... Federico Fellini (January 20, 1920 – October 31, 1993) was an Italian film-maker and director and one of the key film auteurs of the second half of the twentieth century. ... David Zucker (born January 13th 1990 in Sydney, Australia) is an Australian budding percussionist, attending the sydney conservatorium of music high school. ... Something Awful, sometimes abbreviated to SA, is a comedy website based in the United States. ... White Ninja Comics is a webcomic by Scott Bevan and Kent Earle. ... Homestar Runner (often abbreviated HR, HSR or H*R) is a Flash cartoon series. ...

See also

  Results from FactBites:
Surreal humour - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (727 words)
Surreal humour is a form of humour based on bizarre juxtapositions, absurd situations, and nonsense logic.
Probably the most common form of surreal humour is the non-sequitur, in which one statement is followed by another with no logical progression, as in the jokes below.
Surreal humour can also be found in unexpected juxtapositions (such as in the image to the right).
  More results at FactBites »



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