Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Personality Traits of the Hero in a Physical Comedy

I have been working on yet another John Kennedy Toole paper for a couple of years now. This one is centered on the nature of the humor in Confederacy of Dunces. I want to expand on my remarks from my Amazon review about Ignatius being a physical comedian. Click here to view my Amazon review.

For humor theory, I have been reading work by Michael Mulkay, Weems, Alan Dale, and others. However, I was quite taken by the video documentary made with Rowan Atkinson called "Laughing Matters." It was part of the series called "Funny Business." In it, the personality traits of the slapstick hero are listed. Here is the list from the documentary:

  1. He is alienated from the society around him: Ignatius stays in his room in his mother's house.
  2. He is childish: Ignatius thinks his mother should still support him at age 30.
  3. He has to fight with ordinary objects: Ignatius cannot even ride in a bus.
  4. His body can be humorous by itself: Did I mention Ignatius is obese?
  5. He is uncivilized and cannot or will not conform to social rules: Ignatius's first act in the book is to hit a policeman in the head with a rolled up sheet of music.
  6. He is a threat to respectable people: On first seeing him, the policeman immediately tries to arrest him. Even a strip-tease club wants to get rid of him.
  7. He mocks authority and politeness: Ignatius is rude and heaps scorn on everyone.
  8. He spreads confusion: Ignatius causes the climactic chaos of the book.
  9. He always survives his travails.
I have not been able to find a comparable list in any scholarly study of physical comedy. So I appeal to readers of this blog: if you know of the scholarly study upon which that video was based, please send me the citation.