comparative literature 270b | | san diego state university

theory of comedy resource box!
naked loud and broken


added december 1, 2005

interview with TERRY GROSS: Dave Chappelle on NPR

added november 2, 2005

Comparative Literature 270B | Naked, Loud, and Broken | Comedy in World Literature & Film
Marin & Nericcio, co-conspirator pedagogues
Analytical Imagination Challenge

You have an essay due--it is to be delivered to my hand or under my door, Adams Humanities 4117, by 12 noon, Monday, November 21, 2005. While early papers will be accepted (you can, for instance, bring your paper with you and turn it in to me in class on November 17, 2005), late papers will not.  Your syllabus testified to you along the following lines when you first embarked on our Naked, Loud, and Broken adventure: "you will be asked to write ONE Analytical Imagination Challenge--aka, a 4 to 7 page essay. Please note that you will never be compelled to write about something you absolutely loathe. Please see me during office hours and we can always brainstorm a substitute essay assignment." And not much has changed since then!  Here are the logistical details:

1. Write well. Proofread your work, prepare a rough draft, and have someone with a brain that you know pre-read it for you, etc before handing it to Anna and myself.
2. Have a title truly represents what you are going to argue! "Psychology in A Confederacy of Dunces" just doesn‚t move a reader like "Probing Ignatius Reilly‚s Comic Sheets: Towards a Psychopathology of Sexuality and Satire in A Confederacy of Dunces."
3. Write unto others as you would have them write unto you; have a friend read one of your paragraphs back to you--if it sounds dull, it probably is dull.
4. Your paper should be anywhere from four (4) to seven (7) pages long; those of you taking this class for upper-division credit should author an eight (8) to twelve (12) page critical opus.
5. Your essay MUST incorporate materials from TWO scholarly essays on Comedy that relate to your chosen objects/topics of focus.  Please note the term scholarly! If it is not from an essay off of JSTOR, PROJECT MUSE, or from a book on the shelves in Love Library, it probably is not coming from a scholarly journal; some noted journals full of useful stuff: PMLA, Critical Inquiry, American Literature, Comparative Literature, Diacritics, The South Atlantic Quarterly, Modern Language Notes, and World Literature Today. Newspapers, Time Magazine, and Newsweek are NOT scholarly sources, nor are high school essays posted on the internet.
8. Write as if you care about your ideas.  This is not an "essay" assignment, per se; it is an ANALYTICAL IMAGINATION CHALLENGE.
9. Do please use the MLA Bibliography style-sheet for your works cited.

Select ONE of the following prompts to guide your beautiful imagination:

1. Explore the relationship between sexuality and comedy in the work of Bill Hicks, William Hogarth and John Kennedy Toole.
2. Identify the theme that either outs similarites in the comedic vision of Woody Allen, Friedrich Nietzsche and Culture Clash or that highlights their differences.
3. Redefine the notion of peripatetic fiction using the work of Voltaire, Nathanael West, and John Kennedy Toole.
4. At first glance, one might imagine that murder and comedy have nothing to do with one another; however, a careful study of the work and writings of Woody Allen, Nathanael West and William Hogarth proves otherwise. Explore this phenomena.
5. Women and Comedy: this class has given short shrift to female comedians and comic writers; select any two comic grrls (in literature, film, or stand-up) and compare or contrast them to any one text we have already studied this term.
6. Dan Clowes, John Kennedy Toole and Voltaire certainly understand the complexities of the Grotesque; author a piece that explores how Clowes, Toole, and Voltaire‚s comic vision forces to rethink our understanding of the Grotesque.
7. Religion and the Comic: one of the dominant themes of our semester; explore the relationship between Christianity and Comedy in the work of Nietzsche, Allen, and Hogarth.
8)  Explore the breaking point of comedy?  Is it still funny?  Consider Bill Hicks, Nathanael West, and Voltaire.
9)  Apply Mike Harper's theory of the ideal vs. the real (his ICONIC/IRONIC dyad) to consider comedy in the works of this class.  Use 3 (three of the following) of Nietzsche, Hicks, Clowes,  and Allen.
10)  NAKED COMEDY: what role does the body play in comedy, to make us laugh or grimace.  Use Hogarth, John Kennedy Toole, Bill Hicks.
11)  What role does parody play in the works of Nietzsche and Allen?  Does it work?  Are we laughing?
12)  Investigate the relationship between the characters Nietzsche in his "autobiography" and Ignatius J. Reilly in A Confederacy of Dunces.
13)  Compare or contrast Ecce Homo and Candide.  Is Nietzsche more akin to the ideas of writer Voltaire or the aspirations of character Candide?
14)  Round 1: Match of Decadence.  In the Blue corner: Friedrich Nietzsche.  In the Red corner: William Hogarth.  Who would win?
15)  Round 2: Match of Being.  In the Blue corner: Woody Allen and his film Crimes and Misdemeanors.  In the Red corner: William Hogarth.  Who would win?
16) Ethnicity, Culture and the Comic: explore how these concepts fuse in the work of Ric Salinas (Culture Clash), Chris Rock and Nathanael West (Weinstein).
17) Invent your own thesis; you MUST run a paragraph-length proposal by me in office hours or email ( by November 10, 2005, 12 noon.

swift link...

this wikipedia link contains, near the bottom, a link to the FULL TEXT of Swift's collection of essays that includes his "dunces" remark that TOOLE reappropriated...

woody allen, crimes and misdemeanors


added october 18, 2005

black humor/humour


mock epic

extra credit conference SATURDAY
Due next TUESDAY, in class, 2 pages typed, double-spaced, spicy title. if you complete it, the grade you receive will replace the grade you have on a quiz you have mangled or serve as a way to erase an absence. here is the challenge: attend the FACULTY panel and ONE other session of the conference this weekend here (click on the picture of the earth). write either a comparison, contrast, analysis, review, rebuke, rant, parody, satire of SPECIFIC IDEAS (quote directly, with attribution, details etc.) addressed in two presentations that you witness. comedy need not be the focus of your writing.

added september 27, 2005

added september 13, 2005

added september 9, 2005

bergson on laughter

freud on jokes

horton on comedy

William Nericcio & Anna Marin
comedians on patrol