Sounding Funny - Sound and Comedy Cinema - Mark Evans

Sounding Funny - Sound and Comedy Cinema - Mark Evans

The Soundtrack as Appropriate Incongruity

Sounding Funny - Sound and Comedy Cinema - Mark Evans

Marshall Heiser [+-]
Griffith University, Brisbane
Marshall Heiser is a classically trained musician, songwriter, sound engineer and writer. He is currently completing a PhD at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Griffith University, with his area of expertise being the intersection between record production, play/humour theory and creativity studies. He has presented papers internationally and is published in the peer-reviewed Journal on the Art of Record Production. As well as lecturing in audio/music at a multidisciplinary creative media institute in Brisbane, Australia, Marshall is currently developing computer music applications designed to facilitate creative flow for musicians of all skill levels.


The idea that instances of humour depend upon the perception of an incongruity is by no means a new idea (Morreall, 1989). Incongruity theories form a major strand of humour studies and have in common a (primarily) cognitive approach to the phenomenon. Oring’s appropriate incongruity theory states that humour depends on relationships that are paradoxically right and yet not-right (2003). This collision of seemingly ‘incompatible matrices’ (Koestler, 1964) need not be limited to one sensory mode however. As an audio-visual medium, cinema has the potential to articulate humour by playfully synchronising sight and sound in an appropriately incongruous fashion. In these cases, the humour may arise as an emergent property of the synthesis, rather than belonging to either of the texts independently. Case studies from comedy cinema of the post-War period are examined to demonstrate a variety of ways this humorous synthesis can occur.

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Heiser, Marshall . The Soundtrack as Appropriate Incongruity. Sounding Funny - Sound and Comedy Cinema. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 14-28 Jan 2016. ISBN 9781845536749. Date accessed: 01 Apr 2023 doi: 10.1558/equinox.24487. Jan 2016

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