Laughter and Literature: A Play Theory of Humor

  title={Laughter and Literature: A Play Theory of Humor},
  author={Brian Boyd},
  journal={Philosophy and Literature},
  pages={1 - 22}
  • Brian Boyd
  • Published 12 May 2004
  • Art
  • Philosophy and Literature
Humor seems uniquely human, but it has deep biological roots. Laughter, the best evidence suggests, derives from the ritualized breathing and open-mouth display common in animal play. Play evolved as training for the unexpected, in creatures putting themselves at risk of losing balance or dominance so that they learn to recover. Humor in turn involves play with the expectations we share-whether innate or acquired-in order to catch one another off guard in ways that simulate risk and stimulate… 

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