Surreal Humor & Absurdist Comedy – Why Is It So Weird?

Written by Peter Manley

When we think about comedy, there are so many different styles and “flavors” for us to choose from. For example, some of the most common forms of comedy – especially in the stand-up comedy realm – are anti-humor comedy (where a dry and otherwise unfunny statement is said out of indirect humor) and insult comedy, where the comedian directly makes fun of the audience or people around him/her.

Comedy can range from dry and direct, such as anti-humor, to dark and disturbing, such as dark comedy, to lighthearted and almost goofy, such as cringe comedy. And then… there’s surreal humor and absurdist comedy, which are unique and weird in their own way.

 

What you probably didn’t know is that surreal humor and absurd comedy are much more common than we may come to see. This form is used everywhere: on TV shows, in magazines, in comic strips, in movies, and even during stand-ups.

Don’t be mistaken, however – surreal humor and absurdist comedy are NOT for the lighthearted 😜. These forms of comedy take a whole new shape and form than the rest, finding their home in the realm of irrational and illogical. They’re funny, for sure, but only if you have a tough yet lighthearted mindset and don’t take life so D*MN seriously! 🤐💣🪓👻

Whether you’re new to the surreal humor and absurdist comedy world and want to give it a try, or already a huge fan, but would like to learn more, keep on reading…

What is Surreal Humor?

At least according to Wikipedia, surreal humor is “a form of humor predicated on deliberate violations of causal reasoning, producing events and behaviors that are obviously illogical.” The site further continues to explain “Constructions of surreal humor tend to involve bizarre juxtapositions, incongruity, non-sequiturs, irrational or absurd situations and expressions of nonsense.”

What does all of that mean then? Well… in layman’s terms, surreal humor happens when something or someone is so bizarre or inexplicably weird that you can’t help but laugh at how ridiculous it is. While we see this type of humor occurring in just about every medium (such as movies, comedy acts, etc.), you’ll most likely find surreal humor in the form of adult cartoons.

If you’ve ever stayed up late and watched the Adult Swim channel, which is like the adult-oriented Cartoon Network on coffee and drugs, then you’re already all too familiar with what surreal humor is. Shows such as Robot Chicken, Aqua Teen Hunger Force (with that walking meatball), and even Family Guy are all perfect examples of comedy that is so ridiculously out of this world and nonsense, that it’s funny. Trust me, I’m a huge fan of Family Guy, so I know what I’m talking about (kinda 🤨).

What is Absurdist Comedy?

While sort of related to surreal humor, absurdist comedy is a genre of comedy on its own. As you just learned, surreal humor tends to exist in the realm of being so dumb and unconventional that it’s actually funny (again, such as Meatball from Aqua Teen Hunger Force).

Absurdist comedy, on the other hand, is a style of comedy that uses the element of surprise and unexpectedness. Basically, absurdist comedy is when something happens or is said that is so unexpected and unrelated to the rest of the content, that it serves as a bit of comic relief.

A great example of absurdist comedy in real life is when a room full of people is silent and all of a sudden someone yells something ridiculous and irrelevant. A friend of mine used to do this in college all the time, and this alone made him one of the funniest people I know 🙀😉.

Why Are These Genres of Comedy So Weird?

No really, these genres exist to add yet another layer of comedy to the scene. As time goes by, comedy has become more direct, more brutal, rawer, and uncut. Following suit, these genres of comedy have become popular because as people come to develop higher thresholds of what they can handle in comedy, their comedy preferences begin to broaden. This is where, of course, surreal humor and absurdist comedy come into play. They are so weird because when people are not worried about judgment and being perceived as weird, they’re allowed to be, well, weird… And that means 👽🔪consuming healthy levels of surreal and absurd.

 


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12 Responses

  1. Jina Bazzar says:

    I’ll take any kind of humor – absurd, surreal, dry, any kind is great! Thanks for the distinction, I never really thought of it.

  2. Another thoughtful post by your guest, VR. Thanks to the absurd and surreal Peter Manley.

  3. Take politics. It’s a perfect example of surreal humor and a comedy of absurd.

  4. pvcann says:

    I do love absurdism in every form, thank you for offering this.

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