Humor has been the subject of serious investigation dating back all the way to Plato and Aristotle. Over the past few decades, Dirk Eitzen has been compiling and rethinking much of what has been established regarding humor and cinema. Two of his essential articles (“The Emotional Basis of Film Comedy” and “The Nature of Film Comedy, or Why is Shaun of the Dead Funny?”) are the starting point for this new series of video essays, Why We Laugh, that seeks to translate the main theories around comedy into an audiovisual medium. In this episode, the first step in our quest to determine what makes things funny in the movies, we look at the most widely accepted theory (Incongruity-Resolution) and apply it to Shawshank Redemption (1994). 

Are you a comedy nerd or just a humor junkie? Either way, you won’t want to miss our further investigations into the subject, which include The Funny Thing About “Star Wars”, Laughing in the Movies, and The Dark Humor of Stanley Kubrick.