More on Nonsense humour..

Nonsense humour. Freud. Suspension of disbelief.

In Freud s introduction he looksat how other scholars have tried to define jokes

‘A favourite definition of joking has long been the ability to find similarity between dissimilar things – that is hidden similarities. Pg41

‘Other more or less interrelated ideas which have been brought up as defining or describing jokes are ‘ a contrast of ideas’,’sense in nonsense’ bewilderment and illumination.’ Pg 41/42

‘A remark seems to us to be a joke, if we attribute a significance to it that has psychological necessity and , as soon as we have done so, deny it again’ pg 42 on Kraepelin

Freud discusses a joke in which the portmanteau word ‘famillionairely’ is used. A combination of two words that allow great economy by not only being a portmanteau abbreviation of two words but by also conveying a great deal of information without great effort. In this case, Freud suggests that to be treated ‘famillionarely’ conveys  the following information ‘ treated me as quite familiar, that is , so far as a Millionaire can’[1] and he calls this technique condensation, which he groups with humour derived from modification under ‘the concept of the formation of substitutes’. Freud links this condensation to the characteristics of dreams.

Concepts of double meaning, and multiple use with modification. Playing with words, metaphor, pun, double entendre.  Economy.

Displacement jokes.  

Freud on nonsense jokes is less helpful , his nonsense is pure stupidity . ‘stupid jokes’ are not nonsense. Faulty reasoning. But ‘sophistry’ which plays within the rules of logic is, he suggests that these ’stories have as much right to be called ‘comic’ as we had to produce them as ‘jokes’.[2]

Unification. Repartee, a unification of attack and defence. Unification of sense and nonsense.

Representation by the opposite is an instrument of joke-technique that is used frequently and works powerfully. Pg 112/113

Double meaning with an allusion – ‘When two meanings are expressed in one word and one of them is so much more frequent and usual that it occurs to us at once, while the second is more out of the way and therefore less prominent’ pg 115

Allusion with omission.

Joke – owl and the pussy cat went to sea in a sieve.

To write about nonsense is like going to sea in a sieve(W.Tigges pg 4)

Nonsense and jokes are both forms of play. The difference is that whereas the joke has a “point” nonsense has not.(W.Tigges pg 93)

The psychogenesis of jokes has taught us that the pleasure in a joke is derived from play with words or from the liberation of nonsense, and that the meaningof the joke is merely intended to protect that pleasure from being done away with criticism (freud pg 181)


[1] Freud. Jokes and their relation to the Unconscious.

[2] Freud. Jokes and their relation to the Unconscious.

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