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International Journal of Humor Research

Editor-in-Chief: Kuipers, Giselinde / Ford, Thomas E.

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The interplay of humor and conflict in conversation and scripted humorous performance

Neal R. Norrick1 / Alice Spitz1

1Saarland University

Citation Information: Humor - International Journal of Humor Research. Volume 23, Issue 1, Pages 83–111, ISSN (Online) 1613-3722, ISSN (Print) 0933-1719, DOI: 10.1515/humr.2010.004, March 2010

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In this article we explore the interrelationship of humor and conflict. We focus first on contexts where humor provides a constructive means of attenuating conflict and ending disagreements in conversation. Then we turn to conflict talk as a source of humor. We identify three characteristic strategies for constructing humor around patterns of conflict talk, both in everyday conversation and in professionally scripted dialogue. The momentum and coherence of argument structure tends toward automatization even in everyday talk, and this property lends itself especially well to the creation of humorous dialogue. We show both how humor can mitigate conflict, and how conflict talk can be funny.

Keywords:: Argument; conflict talk; conversation; scripted dialogue

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