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When you laugh it signifies a release from your release from restraint restraint self-imposed or socially imposed. That every edition. That is the gist of Sigmund Freud's contribution to life. I did not claim that now as the explanation will all fall within us. But it states the broad imposition on less accurately enough to warrant our present investigation. Well you know I am so down here. To not only see very well. If. You are comfortable ya know what I think if I was going to go I want to listen to everything I want to do relax and would not read them. I would ask your several questions and then you will answer those questions for me please take plenty of time.
Don't get excited. And remember that nothing you say can surprise. You understand. Good. Now here's the first question my should like to ask. What was the trouble between you and your mother. What's Robin I don't get excited please just answer the question why did you hate your mother hate my mother. What kind of a question in Atlanta. Thank God and I didn't hate my mother. People not hate me. Please try to control yourself. Quiet down. Settle back in your chair. Where are you comfortable but wouldn't say if you did meet your mother Why don't you come in here to see me. Everybody has their Mom I promise you. My problem is love life. You know I am concerned
about how Sigmund Freud's theory of the release of division fits into that there is a lack of going to be found as you say you have a doctor. Why don't we begin by telling me everything you know about your point and you I don't know very much about it. Just hand me whatever you know. Well write them from childhood on. You have a constant series of restrictions placed upon our natural parents and school teachers and eventually science society itself insists upon various patterns of behavior which we are trained to accept. Most of us accept these that see them as both reasonable but unconscious. That is to say below
our reason why we still feel dissatisfied. Natural have been suppressed. So life can often be a way of releasing the pent up and give an. Explanation. And it's not going to sack you for size. Most were meaningless to the point that I'm really interested in is how. How does how does life express a release from example. If you were going after it in obscenity but a question that's been covered I mean truthfully Yes I have. Naturally of course you have more than you are you see. This about sex is one of the greatest places we're not supposed to talk about it often and we are not supposed to mention it in public. Yes well now they're I
think probably ought not to pursue this line and what's the matter with you or just listen. Obviously the fact of the matter is that we think about it a good deal more than we're allowed to. Yes. For example if we test our responses on the story about the traveling salesman who simply cannot tell that story. We're not because we're on television and you simply can't tell that story and everything is not hermetic. For now it keeps going on about people who know it's like what the many people are trying to fact I want your permission. It simply is not done. There you see a perfect illustration of social cohesion on the subject. Perhaps I shouldn't mention the prohibition on the subject in question. But how does Freud Syrian officials relate to the
subject in question. I don't buy it it's so simple. The very fact that stories and jokes about this of the question are so popular is you need help prove that there is a great desire to be released from the restraints that surround. The subject in question. Before it sees that you are left to is appropriate action for us as well as you really swell my respect for protection. Now in the crude story or joke on the subject in question frequently we get angry we will not laugh. What's his role in the story on the subject in question is Tory in direct in that it's time we use the one name we do not think. You see we have the pleasure of listening to a story on the subject in question without actually having to say anything improper. We laugh at the weak so we say and not the subject. I see so the effect we have our cake and we in the plural. Exactly. For example
right now we are talking about the subject in question. Well everybody knows what we really me but we don't have to mention the forbidden him on this division cover design so that we release our inhibitions by laughing at indecent stories and at the same time we have the pleasure of doing the job in the play. So the effect we are marking respectability and this was a core part of that is what Freud called as our tendency for aggression. Now we are all decent people we all learn decency but sometimes we get a little tired. We like to fight back when laughing at an indecent joke or story is a way of overcoming the restraints the propriety makes upon my not mean when economy. It looks very inefficient but it makes Shakespeare did it brilliantly. And I'm thinking of Henry the author. I
don't understand what our natural response to a character such as Falstaff is one of contempt and indignation you cowardly self-indulgent. All characteristics that you and I in the public that we can sense in this rise. Yet he is able to convert us to his dogma. If we laugh with him and enjoy him they grow fond of him. That's because his great charm and wit cut off our natural dislike. Do you remember that wonderful speech of his to Barbara and or the fourth one you can usually get it for staff meets but all that the Head happens and begins a lament for his lost virtue which quickly turns into a parody on virtue and ends as an excuse for his own vice. Just listen. Not in the US. Do I not be doing
skin that hangs on me like in the news. I'm like an old friend and that suddenly while I'm in some like I should be out of school and I should have to repay that I have forgotten what the inside of a truck was made although I'm up I'm a horse. It's. A really nice company has been the spoil me. You can or can sing me a bawdy song. You make me mad. I was actually a slave given as a gentleman but
only if your not above seven times a week or so above board. Not once in that quarter of an hour paid money that I'd bought. For you and in good hands. Or course so that you must become the reason why I added the lantern and the black nose or Vive the night of the landing and I am. Going to hike and do a break on
break through this field we've got good Indian boys. If there were anything in the pocket what memorandums of any worth of candy in a state of innocency Adam what would Dr. Paul do in the days. I don't think I have more right than another man. Only you can vicariously indulge repressed tendencies toward gambling in the US under the
protection of his weapon. Correct. And then make some point respectability. We're doing the same thing with you. Very well Doctor I can't thank you enough. This has been very helpful and I thank you for saying about other forms of laughter that can be easily included. Yes and about those are going by. You have need of me. I must get back. Thank you very much. The release of inhibitions and the tendency for aggression are the two basic ingredients in Freud's. Now obviously the last comic price displays both elements but pride does equally well with comic innocence. What he demonstrates is of course that it isn't so innocent. If you're not the next example I think you'll see what I mean. Are you
out of the rest. Perhaps you're right. I mean. Yeah. I.
Such is not written by one of it. And with. That particular angle wangle hat has long been a popular no story rhyme. But perhaps this example given by Sigmund Freud himself will have more appeal to adults. Because never to be Brawn would be best for mortal man. That hardly one man in a thousand. Years says Freud the comment exposes the nonsense of the sham aphorism. The ingredients are the same here as they are only going to wrangle and maybe rhyme but certainly there is no reason. It's all clean innocent fun. However there is something significant for fraud in the fact that a good deal of nonsense writing becomes bedtime reading for children or at least can be called childish. As a goats we are committed to being reasonable.
We know that would have meaning. And it is common practice that the woods into their proper order meaning will become clear. Ramadan is after all but one rule of reason. It's the logical restriction upon self expression. The drawing observes that as children we rebel against the imposition of grammar upon us and delight in making fun of it. Invariably the parts of speech take the upper hand and we consent to rational order. But subconsciously you see we're dissatisfied and long to see the tyranny of words overthrown and reasoned ma'am. And now nonsense allows us to do just that. For in Munson's languages trap. IDEAS a set free and with childlike abandon we take revenge on logic. It is a momentary holiday in the routine of reason. And so once again inhibition and hostility can be used to explain life.
You notice also that the that the comic element in nonsense the element of fantasy so the usual double function. The fantasy prevents us from being embarrassed and removes the censor from libido and makes the story innocent and safe. And yet it allows us to vent out hostile inhibitions. In short. The fantastical in nonsense protects and releases us. Just as with Protect and releases us in the indecent story. The less we would agree of course that nonsense is a very mild form of release from restraint. It's an instance of what Freud described as harmless when. The attack nonsense is upon a condition of life and we are being as hostile to our own sense of reason as we are being reason in general. Nonsense has no sting because our malice is is too diffuse. There is far more pleasure in attacking specific irritations
such as other people. Assaulting friends is an ancient pastime that shows no sign of age. It's always fresh always inviting and almost always good for a laugh. Which is the reason I suppose that's why so many playwrights of capitalize on this form of human. The catty remark weaves its way into many places and in one remarkable instance it has become the subject of a whole drama. In Richard brings the Sheridan of the School for Scandal. Ladies there will conduct majorly shallow devoted to the assassination of character of sensibly she entertains our lady friends and certain select gentlemen for afternoons of card play and the other but the Trump in every case is the super club which hammers away at the unsuspecting reputation. Now here we find ladies sneer well at home waiting to receive our
friend Benjamin backbite. For how great you come down to me. I think really you know if your leadership was a. Primary joy you are common then just released people from an army instead of having to be treated to nothing but female difficult. Oh you'd never believe how she took things for you. Would you. Not on. Me to be. Yeah pretty hard. So you have night and in the morning
of what you want to know who. And if you don't well there's no judging. And that one could take some time with I. Think and that's better than the manner in which the widow go that she paints but that the when she is finished. She joined it so that you can see the movie.
Make me. The way you wrote it. Well now what do you think of me. Can you count when smiling or laughing which you never have to do. But she was always a joy all. Can you be so nature that have been pretty take the rap sheet home and appeared to doubt it will save you for the new one but certainly it is not omelet. Rather this is what Freud called a tendency which is where we intend to inflict upon others. The catty remark is venom with a light weighting of the note but it is the cropping which makes the laughter possible. Let us just recall one of the ladies
near Wells remarked. Nay I allow even that better than the pain the supreme takes to get the losses in front she must kill it positively with them building effort brought up. And all the while the PFA sought out headway towards a very direct cut. Fighting it hard but by no means proves maybe snare Will's comparison of Mrs Prinz mouth to a church is a poor box would you believe sliding out like natto coins. Is the witty exaggeration that causes us to laugh. Once again. You see we take refuge in the wit for its subject has imposed. We are then free to indulge our desire for revenge. You ladies may well attack upon friends so far you see with operates much the same way as in the indecent joke or story. But a good element is present here. The whip. So there's another function. Now if we were to reduce ladies near Will's remarks due to a simple component it might sound like this.
Well she's lost some of her front teeth and so she only opens her mouth a little when she talks. She taught me that the thought of a man using up that's a simple statement of fact is not very funny. And while it is not particularly flattering to poor Miss Prim it's not as vicious as the original remark by Sharon. Using the whip of Sheridan accounts for the fun. But what is surprising is that it also accounts for a lot of proper venom. Misprint is made to seem particularly because the comparison to her of her mouth to a pro boxer is a ridiculous and. Does. In this kind of humor the direct cut at other people with the release of inhibitions in three ways. It protects us from Central. It allows us to vent our hostility and it is the chief weapon in the attack. So far we've been able to fit in decency comic vice as in the illustration of Falstaff nonsense the crying away and
cutting wit such as we've seen exemplified in Sheridan with Roy inhibition. Now Alan if you want to finish back poem The answer is no no that isn't what I want. What is and then what did you want me. Well now I've been listening to everything you've said on this program and I listen to everything you said on the last program. Who wants a good good good. And. I don't get it. Could you be a trifle specific. Well in the last programme you said we laugh at people when they slip on banana peels or have a practical joke pulled on them. And I remember that part of it all when people use the wrong word so when they get beat up in a play you know we laugh at them at those times because we feel superior to them. Right. But now this week all that business about Freud that we that we laugh at people in order to release our inhibitions. Well isn't that really the same thing as wanting to feel superior.
I see your point. Of fact they do seem rather similar. Now that's my point. What's the difference. We let them. Let's ask if you can help us on that very complex question to put through a doctor. They also are not here is my question. How can one relate the superior theory as articulated by the beach. Let us say to the inhibition theory of law. We have a look at this way. But one theory has come up much the same but they approach the problem from a different view.
For example we can say that when we see a man being beaten with a stick and we laugh at him because we wish to express House appealing directly directly on we can say that we enjoy the beating because we would like to beat other people or ourselves. Yes yes and then what. Now both can be true. How is that possible. Then you see one theory tells us that we are having this state of superiority when we look at the others that we know for certain reasons. I mean for example why exactly exactly. Ah once again Doc I want to be sure I have a clear All right. And here it is as simply as I can make the basic difference between the two. Is this that in the superiority theory it's a presumption that we are naturally hostile creatures naturally hostile spirit. Still it is merely an expression of the you know drives within our unconscious drives within I want to accept.
That. I can't thank you enough. That was excellently well done but thank you very much been a great help. It's only part of my job right side was kind of fun anyway. You don't like this part of the program that well you know I like to act even at the front of characters like this one. It's a way of releasing my very funny. If you're going to cry out that the real comes and indeed it is. But to be a great clown is to possess a rare and precious gift and few mortals so. Next the clown is the agent the black is the embodiment of the antic disposition that resides in each one. The personification of our shared human and perception of the ironic in life the clown is the invention of our profoundest humanity who takes upon himself because of our weakness and returns it transfigured strength in us so that so far only programs we have isolated the cause of less income grew. We have investigated two of the principal theories that account for the psychology of life. The bibliography on the release of
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Laughter's a Funny Business
Episode Number
Producing Organization
National Educational Television and Radio Center
WGBH (Television station : Boston, Mass.)
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WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
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Episode Description
In this episode, host E.B. Pettet explains Freud's theory that laughter helps people to release their inhibitions. A skit set in a psychiatrist's office illustrates this theory.Performers read excerpts from Shakespeare's "Falstaff" and Edward Lear's poem "The Quangle Wangle Hat." Pettet discusses nonsense literature's place in humor. A scene from Sheridan's "The School for Scandal" is performed to illustrate Freud's concept of tendency wit.
Episode Description
In this episode, host E.B. Pettet explains Freud's theory that laughter helps people to release their inhibitions. A skit set in a psychiatrist's office illustrates this theory.
Other Description
During the course Laughters a Funny Business, a NETRC series, Professor Edwin Burr Pettet of Brandeis University investigates what makes man laugh. Dealing chiefly with humor in the theatre, Professor Pettet and other members of Brandeis University's faculty and student body discuss topics including conditions for laughter, incongruity, superiority inhibition, the clown, the farce, comedy and the development of dramatic humor, wit of situation, verbal wit, and parody, burlesque and satire. The 11 half-hour episodes that comprise this series were originally recorded in black and white. (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
Other Description
"'Laughter's a Funny Business' showed why we laugh, by presenting in dramatic format the full range of typical and traditional laugh-provoking incidents, by analyzing them, and by showing in some detail how the effect was produced."--1959 Peabody Digest.
Broadcast Date
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Moving Image
Host: Pettet, Edwin Burr
Producing Organization: National Educational Television and Radio Center
Producing Organization: WGBH (Television station : Boston, Mass.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: 87215 (WGBH Barcode)
Format: Betacam
Generation: Master
Identifier: 02304A (WGBH Item ID)
Format: 16mm film
Generation: Kinescope
Identifier: 83840 (WGBH Barcode)
Format: Digital Betacam
Generation: Master
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
Identifier: 59019edt-arch (Peabody Archive Object ID)
Format: 16mm film
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Chicago: “Laughter's a Funny Business; 4; Inhibition,” 1959-00-00, WGBH, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 26, 2022,
MLA: “Laughter's a Funny Business; 4; Inhibition.” 1959-00-00. WGBH, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 26, 2022. <>.
APA: Laughter's a Funny Business; 4; Inhibition. Boston, MA: WGBH, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from