Wednesday 30th March, 5:15pm. Arts One, Room G34.
This paper addresses the way comedy works as a method to transgress what Slavoj Žižek describes as the post-political; that is the current state of denial of alternatives within global politics and a directionlessness within cultural theory, which set in after the apparent defeat of the possibility of a radical alternative to capitalism.
For comedy to be truly transgressive Marcus Pound says it requires ‘a politics of the impossible’: By highlighting a world of unreason, rather than condemning it outright, humour arises from the experience of this world of unreason. For this to happen, in Pound’s understanding, transgressive comedy has to approach its subject not on a material but on metaphysical level; not point out the inconsistencies of concrete claims of truth and expose them to ridicule, but to assume their universalist truth and revelling in the contradiction between their idealist form and materialists execution. Referring to the work on comedy by Alenka Zupančič, Pound says, the transgressive comic mode is not found, ‘in the usual materialist critique of idealism; but the very point at which the ideal appears directly as the material, and it is this paradox – this incongruity – which generates the truly subversive comic mode of comedy.’ In short, comedy has the ability to tap into the subtle questions of the human condition concerned with how it is rather than pointing out the way things are. This paper presumes that, by looking at the way Morris’ satire can be used as a way to transcend the stalemate of the post-political. Most of Morris’ comedy works in this fashion, in that his satire does not aim at exposing the materialist discrepancies of society, but accepts these incongruities and takes them as the basis to ridicule their very existence – what the audience is alienated from is not the absurdity of concrete claims but the fact that the mundane is also part of this very absurdity.