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Humor Of A Common Fear Essay

1056 words - 5 pages

“Life doesn't make any sense, and we all pretend it does. Comedy's job is to point out that it doesn't make sense, and that it doesn't make much difference anyway.” ~Eric Idle. In “The Ransom of Red Chief” by O. Henry this concept comes to life. The story is about two men kidnapping a young child and karma coming back to bite them in the butt. The two men are Sam and Bill, each is being abused by the child known as Johnny but goes by Red Chief. Sam and Bill ask for a ransom of $2,000, but they end up paying Johnny’s dad to take him back because they cannot go on with the abuse anymore. The concept stated by Eric Idle applies to this tale because people fear kidnapping which makes no sense ...view middle of the document...

Although, when they are together they balance each other out making the story extremely funny, “The boy catches Bill neatly in the eye with a piece of brick” (O. Henry 71). Together Bill’s feminine side shines through while Johnny’s masculinity shines through; Red Chief and Bill together form a perfect example of the incongruity theory. The result of these comic characters is a chuckle. I personally believe a chuckle is created because the audience finds it comical that Bill, the grown adult, is acting feminine and scared while Johnny, the young child, is acting tough and scaring Bill. This is high comedy because it makes witty remarks referencing to stuff that we would need to know before reading that specific line to understand the humor behind it. Hence, the comic characters Bill and Johnny create humor using the incongruity theory.
Moreover, the comic situations in “The Ransom of Red Chief” were created by using irony of the situation and the slapstick of Bill’s injuries. Ironic situations were created by Johnny scaring the grown men; as well as situations being made by Johnny not wanting to go home. For example, “At last, I fell into a troubled sleep, and dreamed that I had been kidnapped and chained to a tree by a ferocious pirate with red hair” (O. Henry 72). This is a high comedic remark, for in the beginning of the tale O. Henry mentioned Red Chief having red hair and them kidnapping Red Chief and in his dream he was kidnapped, and this makes Sam’s dream ironic. To continue, slapstick is a low comedic way of making the audience guffaw, and O. Henry used slapstick perfectly. For instance, “He put a red-hot boiled potato down my back” (O. Henry 74). As another example, “The boy threatening to smash him with a rock half as big as a coconut” (O. Henry 74). To be conclusive, the comic situations added a sense of both low and high comedy to this...

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