MARXIST THEORY OF HUMOR? YOU BET!

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Sat Jun 3 10:42:29 MDT 1995


Scott Marshall's so funny he could be Jerry Glevy's straight man.
'Glevy and Marshall', or 'Marshall and Glevy'?

Marshall, the Brezhnev joke is a stitch; keep it in your act, but
lose the Hinckley and the pigeons.

I'm going to cook up some comedy routines for you guys, but I'm in
a hurry now.

I put myself in a tight spot when I wrote that a Marxist theory of
humor should be self-exemplifying.  For I would now betray my
serious comedic intentions by actually being solemn and serious.
For the leaden brains of Glevy and Marshall were not paying
attention to the fact that my very theoretical principles were
embodied in my jokes, and that their own theoretical principles
were embodied in theirs, and to what I meant by headlining my
posts as "Marxist humor: unity of theory and practice".  Only
Sciabarra and Schwartz and Kerry would seem to be getting the
point, but I would urge them also to pay closer attention to my
genius at work.  I'm so good I can't stand myself.

Now how do I respond to the Glevy-Marshall Marxist-Leninist theory
of humor, which eschews the revisionist formalism I embrace in
humor as an art form, and found themselves somberly on historical
materialism, class partisanship, and socialist realist principles?
For Glevy and Marshall's posts are literally jokes -- literally!
-- they are very funny, and they are truly paradoxical and
dialectical and rich in irony.  Scott's is especially a
masterpiece.  When he says, "Brezhnev -- not funny", I roar with
laughter.  When he says humor should be collective, not
individualistic, I'm down on the floor doubled over in hysteria
and pounding my fist: please stop please stop you're slaying me.
When he calls the Hinckley joke funny, I'm on the floor kicking my
legs in the air and wiggling my toes in spasms of howling.  Stop
stop, I'm hyperventilating!

'Scott and Jerry' -- that's the ticket!  Scott and Jerry, you're
beautiful; you can't imagine the brilliance of your own jokes.
Your theory of humor is self-exemplifying: I simply cannot do it
justice with the lameness of my prose.  I would have to rise to a
much higher level of inspiration: a joke, like a picture, is worth
a thousand prosaic words, in the instantaneous perception of the
perfection and paradoxicality of its internal relations.  Can I
rise to the heights of the art form, like Chaplin in THE CIRCUS,
consciously unselfconsciously doing brilliant slapstick while
consciously unselfconsciously consciously pretending to do bad
slapstick in a show within a show, becoming a manifestation of
pure spirit, of the exquisite lyricism of the technique of
incongruity, raising my perception to the Infinite and flooding my
face with tears of joy?  No, no, no, I cannot rise to such
heights.  Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must remain
silent.


     --- from list marxism at lists.village.virginia.edu ---

     ------------------



More information about the Marxism mailing list