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Comedy & Learning

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Comedy & Learning An Article discussing comedy, humour and enhanced learning.

This is a Free Sample Resource
Categories: Article, Creativity, Educators

Tags: Comedy Humour Memory

What's Funny?
The Ontic-Epistemic Theory of Humour (OETC) proposed by P. Marteinson (2006) asserts that laughter is a reaction to a cognitive impasse, a momentary epistemological difficulty, in which the subject perceives that Social Being itself suddenly appears no longer to be real in any factual or normative sense*.

Was that introduction funny to you? If it was even mildly amusing, why was that? Unexpected? Confusing? Resolved when you realised the intent? (ironically complicated and unfunny) And have you even continued reading? Are you now finding it amusing that you're being questioned by a web page? Or that this point itself has just been made? Are you still there? Here? Wherever that is?

What is it and what's it for?
Theories of humour are as numerous as Michael McIntyre's observations on daily life. Models of what it is and what it's for combine ideas from sociology, psychology, evolution, yogurt-tasting computing and neuro-science. In general, we find something funny if it's surprising, unexpected, incongruent or completely out of place. Mashed carrot. Some types - such as slapstick - are pretty straightforward: Custard pie. Clown. Face. Laugh. Or: Plank of wood. Laurel. Hardy. Laugh.

Others require a lot more work, more maturity, extensive cultural awareness, patience and a willingness to be insulted for your inadequacies as a comedy audience. Stewart Lee.

Research Suggests
Research suggests that the right kind of humour can enhance well being and relationships. But what is the right kind of humour? In 2003, Weir et al. looked at this and identified 2 types, each separated in to 2 styles. The two types are Adaptive (helpful for growth) and Maladaptive (not). Each can be directed towards yourself or towards others. This gives us 4 combinations:

1. Adaptive-Self: Humour used to cope with stress, make light of challenging situations.

2. Adaptive-Others: Humour used to build relationships, ease tensions, entertain others.

3. Maladaptive-Self: Humour used to fit in with others, to express negative outlook.

4. Maladaptive-Others: Humour used aggressively to attack others - racist, sexist, -ist jokes.

al.
Adaptive humour is not only good for your health (Ruch et al.**, 1994), it's good for your learning (Me et al.**, Today). Remember the mashed carrot from earlier? Improv. comedy especially has very strong links to the mechanics of memory and thinking. Often working from a blank slate and prompted by a single word, accomplished improv. comedy troupes entertain audiences for hours on end with performances that appear scripted and rehearsed. These folks do rehearse but when they do they are not learning lines. They are learning principles, learning to be fully attentive to others in the moment, and learning to have high levels of cognitive flexibility.

During a show, improv. comedians are making connections and associations, using imagery, listening for understanding, taking risks, creating stories and being active. Each of these features can enhance memory; each one can be applied directly in the more sober world of the school curriculum.

The BBC Comedy Classroom Literacy Project
The BBC has always had a mission to inform, educate and entertain us. An effective combination of all 3 comes in its Comedy Classroom project - inspiring school children to get involved with comedy writing. This is linked to Red Nose day and invites you to harness the power of your class joker(s). Entries are now open for 2017's competition.

BBC Comedy Classroom (Opens in a new window)

BBC Comedy Classroom Primary Resource pack (Opens in a new window)

BBC Comedy Classroom Secondary Resource pack (Opens in a new window)

*Wikipedia.

**There are a lot of people called 'al.' who are all doing some very important research.

***Nope. You won't find *** anywhere in the text.




Related Resources:

Cognitive Flexibility

Flex Thinking (Standard)

Humour for Learning

Humour Think Sheet

Surprise Thinking

Tips for Classroom Humour

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