Black comedy

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Black humour (from the French humour noir) is a term coined by Surrealist theoretician André Breton in 1935,[1][2] to designate the sub-genre of comedy and satire[3][4] in which laughter arises from cynism and skepticism.[1] Black humour is often a satire on the topic of death.[5][6] Breton identified the originator of Black humour in Jonathan Swift, particularly in his pieces Directions to Servants (1731) A Modest Proposal (1729), A Meditation on a Broom-Stick (1710), and a few aphorisms.[2]

The terms black comedy or dark comedy have been later derived as alternatives to Breton's term. In black humour, topics and events that are usually regarded as taboo, specifically those related to death, are treated in an unusually humorous or satirical manner while retaining their seriousness; the intent of black comedy, therefore, is often for the audience to experience both laughter and discomfort, sometimes simultaneously.[citation needed]

Contents

History and etymology

The term is credited to the Anthology of Black Humour (Anthologie de l'humour noir), a 1939 French anthology of 45 writers edited by André Breton. In the United States, black comedy as a literary genre came to prominence in the 1950s and 1960s. A later English-language anthology edited by Bruce Jay Friedman, titled Black Humor, assembles many examples of the genre.

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