Let me start by saying that I’m a doctor. But not that kind of doctor.
About a month ago I completed my Ph.D. in Drama, so I’m that kind of doctor. A Doctor of Philosophy. Or, a Phony Doctor. Your pick. Either way, I’m going to be of no use to the poor guy in 23B who has a heart attack somewhere over Albuquerque, but I’ll be damned if I won’t respond with an enthusiastic “YES!” when the flight attendants ask if there’s a doctor on board.
My recently-completed dissertation focused on the politics and ethics of dark comedy in contemporary theatre. Now that that’s done, I find myself in need of a new outlet for my study of comedy. Hence, this blog. The Dissected Frog. Now, dear reader, you may be asking about that title. You’re not a science doctor, I sense you smart, science-type people mumbling angrily at your screens. Well, this is not an invitation for the scientific, but a reference to E. B. White (yes, that E. B. White), who once wrote:
Humor can be dissected, as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind. (“Some Remarks on Humor,” in Essays of E. B. White [New York: Harper & Row, 1977], 243.)
Since this blog will take a look at comedy of all sorts, I find White’s words rather comforting. A joke dies the moment you have to explain why it is funny. But Doc, I hear you plaintively addressing your screen, Why would you want to dissect comedy if doing so is just going to kill the humor? Well, I take a cue from Albert Cook, who writes:
Comedy is so rich and various that it is trivial to classify it descriptively […]. The point is to probe its depth, not to chop it into portions. (The Dark Voyage and the Golden Mean: A Philosophy of Comedy, [New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1966], 26.)
In other words, I’m not going to necessarily dissect the frog, but I’m gonna get all up in its guts and probe about. I just figured “Probing the Frog” or “The Probed Frog” might be misleading to some overeager batrachophiles out there, and heaven knows I wouldn’t want them to click over to this blog and be disappointed by the lack of actual probing.
So, dear reader (and yes, I’m assuming there’s only one of you at this point), consider this the first step in an exploration of the comic. As the mood strikes, I will post here about all forms of comedy–theatre, film, television, literature, webcomics, music, podcasts, comedians, pop culture, my own experiences, etc.–and probe the depths of the comic in our everyday lives. Some posts might be a bit academic, others a bit more pedestrian, but my goal is to keep the frog alive at all costs. (Insert joke about frogs “croaking” or some stupid shit like that here.)