Miskatonic Institute

Miskatonic NYC Lecture Tackles Humor and Horror

Miskatonic University New York City is hosting another event in its ongoing horror lecture series. The subject? Humor and horror! The lecture is entitled: HA! AAAH! The Painful Relationship Between Humor and Horror. The speaker? Guest lecturer David Misch. David is an Emmy Nominated writer best known for his work on the American comedy series Mork & Mindy.

Sound cool? The event is happening this week! Read on for the details!

Humor / Horror

HA! AAAH! The Painful Relationship Between Humor and Horror

From 1920’s Haunted Spooks to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the genre of horror-comedy has never really, you should excuse the expression, died.

Yet humor and horror seem pretty different; one’s a pie in the face, the other’s an axe in the skull. It’s obvious why watching someone being torn asunder would be horrible but why is the endless suffering of the Three Stooges funny? Could there be any congruencies between funny and fear, snickers and screams, gore and gags, slapstick and slaughter?


This class proposes – carefully, while remaining alert and well-armed – that the two genres are not mortal enemies.

For one thing, people in pain are a perennial part of every art; to be fascinated with human suffering is to be human. Both comedy and horror can show us how to live (and, of course, die); from Psycho we learn that Death can come to anyone at any time. Also, to always shower with a friend.

The class will examine horror’s relationship with philosophers’ explanations of comedy: Immanuel “Carrot Top” Kant’s Incongruity Theory (it’s funny when two things that don’t go together go together); Sigmund “Shecky” Freud’s Relief Theory (comedy is a rapid expulsion of tension); Thomas “Nutso” Hobbes’s Superiority Theory (“You’re in pain and I’m not – ha!”); Henri “Giggles” Bergson (comedy requires “a momentary anesthesia of the heart”); and Mel Brooks (“Tragedy is when I cut my finger; comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die”).

We’ll explore the mechanics of both using video clips and examples ranging from Frankenstein and Dracula to Abbott & Costello, and try to figure out what makes us laugh and/or scream.

We’ll see that both genres love loss of control, anarchy, the breakdown of rules and conventions – the beast within us set free. And both exploit our paradoxical feelings about helplessness: seeing someone out of control can be hilarious (a clumsy person falling) or horrifying (a clumsy person falling into a snake-pit suspended over a shark-pit next to a zombie zoo).

Both humor and horror also share a mordant view of our relationship to pain; an obsession with the human body and its multifarious fluids; and a subtext of death and transcendence underlying the eviscerated flesh and fart jokes. What could be more blood-curdlingly fun?

Very cool!

Miskatonic NYC’s HA! AAAH! The Painful Relationship Between Humor and Horror comes to the Film Noir Cinema on Tuesday, November 13. The lecture starts at 7pm and runs until 9:30pm. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Grab your tickets here. The address is 122 Meserole, Greenpoint, Brooklyn NY.

Sounds like fun! What do you think? Have you attended a Miskatonic lecture before? Will you check out HA! AAAH! The Painful Relationship Between Humor and Horror? Tell us in the comments!

About Kenn Hoekstra

PopHorror Writer. Associate Editor. @PopHorrorNews Tweeter. Also... Screenwriter. Blogger. Horror Movie Aficionado. Wisconsin Sports Fan. IT Guy. Father. Smartass. People's Champion. TIME Person of the Year - 2006.

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