Funny as it may be: Humour in the American sitcoms I Love Lucy and Modern Family
Keywords:humour, American, situational comedy, script, semantic
The present study explores the manifestation of humour in two American TV situational comedy (sitcom) series: I Love Lucy (1951-1957) and Modern Family (2009-present). These sitcoms are known as landmarks, each characterising a certain time period in American cultural history: the most initial period (I Love Lucy) and the recent one (Modern Family). Hence the initial assumption is that the two series pursue different types of humour. Grounded in Raskin‘s (1985) Script-based Semantic Theory of Humour (SSTH), the analysis stems from the basic notion of the script, that is, a set of semantic meanings first constructed in a given excerpt of a text and then violated in a certain way, thereby producing a humorous effect. The outcome of the violation becomes manifest through the overlap of two partly or fully incompatible scripts. The present study hypothesises that, while following the general principle of script violation and overlap, the two sitcoms will tend to focus on the construction and realisation of different scripts. The latter factor has significant implications in light of the notion of the world view, which is consequently expected to be at least partly different in the given time periods. The study therefore contributes to the larger objective of building a tentative formula of humour for the relevant periods.
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