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Black comedy

Related: ambivalence - black - comedy - tragicomedy

Films: Eating Raoul (1982) - After Hours (1985) - Man Bites Dog (1992) - The Cable Guy (1996)

Anthologies (literature): Anthology of Black Humor (1940) - André Breton

Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov in
Eating Raoul (1982) - Paul Bartel [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


Black comedy, also known as black humor, is a subgenre of comedy and satire that deals with a serious subject, that normally would not be humorous, in a humorous manner.

Black comedy, also known as black humor, is a subgenre of comedy and satire where topics and events normally treated seriously - death, mass murder, sickness, madness, terror, drug abuse, et cetera - are treated in a humorous or satirical manner.

Black humor is similar to sick humor, such as dead baby jokes. However, in sick humor most of the humor comes from shock and revulsion; black humor usually includes an element of irony, or even fatalism.

In America, black comedy as a literary genre came to prominence in the 1950s and 1960s. Writers such as Terry Southern, Joseph Heller, Thomas Pynchon, Kurt Vonnegut and others published novels and stories where profound or horrific events were portrayed in a comic manner. An anthology edited by Bruce Jay Friedman, titled "Black Humor," assembles many examples of the genre.

For example, the film Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb presents one of the finest examples of black comedy. The subject of the film is nuclear war and the extinction of life on Earth. Normally, dramas about nuclear war treat the subject with gravity and seriousness, creating suspense over the efforts to avoid a nuclear war. But Dr. Strangelove plays the subject for laughs; for example, in the film, the fail-safe procedures designed to prevent a nuclear war are precisely the systems that ensure that it will happen.

A scene in Samuel Beckett's play Waiting for Godot is a good example of black comedy: A man takes off his belt to hang himself, and his trousers fall down. The cartoons of Charles Addams typically display black humour, by mixing humor with scenes that would normally be considered macabre or horrific. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_comedy [Jun 2005]

Gallows humor

Gallows humor is humor that makes light of death or other serious matters. It is similar to black comedy but differs in that it is made by the person affected. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallows_humor [Jun 2005]

Some famous black comedy films

--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_comedy, Apr 2004

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