Black humor

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Hopscotch in Spanish Barcelona : The jump in the " sky " in this case is one in death . Somebody made a macabre joke here .

As black humor is humor referred to the crime , disease , death and related topics, usually for a memoir expected in solemn form in satirical used or deliberately trivializing way. Often he refers to current issues. Black humor often makes use of paradoxical stylistic figures . Not infrequently it triggers controversies about whether one should make fun of the things mentioned and where the limits of good taste lie; this is especially the case when religious and sexual issues and tragic events are addressed.

In the performing arts, works based on black humor are called black comedies .

Origin and use of terms

The term was first outlined in more detail by the surrealist André Breton in his work Anthologie de l'humour noir in 1940 , but has been understood differently in some cases since the 1960s, with signs of disillusionment and nihilism being added. In the foreword to his work, Breton names sources from Freud and Hegel , among other things , which, in his opinion, were incorporated into the development of the term. Breton saw the origins of black humor in his anthology in some works by the Irish satirist Jonathan Swift such as Directions to Servants , A Modest Proposal , A Meditation on a Broom-Stick and some of his aphorisms .

The term first became public in the 1960s, especially in the Anglo-American region (“black humor”) through the reception of writers such as Nathanael West , Vladimir Nabokov and Joseph Heller . So true Catch-22 (1961) as a well-known example of this style, where the absurdity of militarism in the Second World War was exaggerated satirical. Further examples are Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five (1969), Thomas Pynchons V. (1963) and Gravity's Rainbow (1973) and Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strange or: How I learned to love the bomb (1964), as well as to find it in the theater of the absurd, especially with Eugène Ionesco .

The term black comedy , which has already been used in the English language for some plays of Shakespeare , shows itself according to the dictionary of film terms of the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel as a comedy type through “sometimes sarcastic , absurd and morbid 'black' humor ", which can focus on" serious or taboo topics such as illness, disability , death, war , crime "as well as on" things considered sacrosanct "and" also against political inaccuracies , rough jokes, sexual and scatological impulses. ”In this context,“ behind the facade of cynical transgressions ”is often a“ sincere concern to expose false hierarchies, conventions and mendaciousness within a society by means of cinematic satire . ”As cinematic examples are given: Robert Altmans M * A * S * H ( USA 1970), Mike Nichols ' Catch-22 (USA 1970, based on Joseph Heller ) and in the mail modern Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (USA 1994) and Lars von Trier's Idioterne ( Denmark 1998).

See also


  • André Breton : Anthology of black humor ("Anthologie de l'humour noir"). Rogner and Bernhard, Munich 1979, ISBN 3-8077-0118-4 .
  • Reinhard Federmann (ed.): ... and joke with horror. The world of black humor . Erdmann Verlag, Tübingen 1969.
  • Michael Hellenthal: Black humor. Theory and definition . Verlag die Blaue Eule, Essen 1989, ISBN 3-89206-303-6 (literary studies of the blue owl; 1).
  • Gerd Henniger: On the genealogy of black humor . In: Neue Deutsche Hefte 13 (1966), Verlag Neue Deutsche Hefte, Berlin, pp. 18–34.
  • Gerd Henniger: Breviary of black humor . 7th edition Dtv, Munich 1976, ISBN 3-423-00341-3 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Ludger Scherer, Rolf Lohse: Avantgarde and Komik , Rodopi 2004, p. 282, online in Google books
  2. Nicholas Lezard: From the sublime to the surreal , The Guardian, February 21, 2011, accessed February 26, 2015
  3. black humor in Encyclopædia Britannica , accessed February 26, 2015
  4. Ludger Kaczmarek: black comedy in the Lexicon of Film Terms of the University of Kiel, accessed on February 26, 2015