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Absurdity and incongruity

Absurdity and incongruity are often made out to be essential elements of humor.10 In the present theory, where normality and violation of the accepted order of things are simultaneously juxtaposed to generate humor, absurdity and incongruity are certainly present, since ``It's okay'', and ``It's not okay'' are incongruous, and believing them both to hold true of one situation is at least apparently absurd. Nonetheless, plenty of absurd and incongruous things are not funny. The belief that two is the same as four is quite incongruous, since they are not congruent at all, but this is not funny; it is simply wrong. Similarly, Chomsky's famous line, ``Colorless green ideas sleep furiously'' is quite absurd, but it isn't a joke, either. In the present theory, the absurdity or incongruity that is present is of a particular kind, namely the absurdity of thinking some situation simultaneously is normal and is a moral violation. Other kinds of absurdity are not funny unless they include this kind of absurdity.

Tom Veatch