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How Humour Is Created In Sitcoms

2089 words - 8 pages

AnalysisHow is the creation of humour represented in sitcom portrayals of friendship groups?ExpletivesExpletives are a modern development of the sitcom and this is reinforced by the data. The three 'Friends' scripts reveal just five mild expletives: "Sweet mother of all that is good and pure" shows deliberate avoidance of blasphemy and the conscious thought that has gone in to avoiding being offensive. This avoidance is unexpected in close knit friendship groups and therefore is humorous. However 'The Inbetweeners' scripts showed an average of 2% of all words being expletives. The changing social attitudes to swearing on television is demonstrated here as the general public is growing desensitised to the use of bad language in the entertainment industry. 'The Inbetweeners' generally bases its humour around teenage male characters which helps contribute to the justification of bad language throughout the show. I categorised the expletives to compare which were more frequent with each show. Out of the five expletives used in 'Friends', one word was blasphemous and repeated three times, "God!" Despite being considered a mild expletive in everyday language, within the context of a family programme, the word is used to great effect: "Monica? My God you used to be so. . . I mean you, you, you, you must have lost like. . . You look great." As the use of, 'God' is rarely seen in the programme, and so when it is utilised by a character, it effectively portrays extreme emotions. The audience of 'Friends' is far wider, encompassing all ages from young teenagers all the way up to middle age and older, therefore it must appeal to all of these groups effectively without offending anybody. This explains the lack of expletives when contrasted with 'The Inbetweeners' which is aimed solely at an audience in their late teens to early twenties. Scripts I1, I2 and I3, contained a far higher proportion of expletives than others. I1 had an especially high count of taboo terms, with the other two 'Inbetweeners' scripts including examples of milder taboo phrases ("Chew on her boobies") alongside the more offensive words. The childish nature of the word, 'boobies' is juxtaposed with Jay's character and is therefore funnier. The 'Friends' extracts lack of expletives suggests that television does not require them to be popular. Therefore we know that bad language is not essential to make a show funny, but to make 'The Inbetweeners' seem an accurate portrayal of student life, the expletives demonstrate that the characters are completely at ease with each other and are not offended by each other's insults :"Fuck me! Do you get a free Barbie when you buy one of these?" It is also used to shock and cause humour by making usage a trait of certain characters (Jay). Overly detailed descriptions and extreme expletive use sets Jay's character apart from the others. The use of blasphemes in 'Friends' is, surprisingly, higher than their usage in 'The Inbetweeners' in script F3....

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