A Head or a Cannonball? An Introduction to the Object of Comedy

  • Jamila M. H. MascatEmail author
  • Gregor Moder
Part of the Performance Philosophy book series (PPH)


What is the object of comedy? What makes us laugh and why? And what are the objectives of comedy, be they manifest or latent? Does comedy simply offer us a healthy relief from our everyday troubles; is it a moral whip leading us to a more wholesome existence and coexistence with others; or is it a tacit weapon of the dominant ideology in the pursuit to solidify the social texture? This introduction looks into the historical accounts of the comic phenomena in the ancient and modern world, but focuses especially on Freud and Hegel. Drawing on Hegel’s account of the very object of the revolutionary terror, namely the guillotine, and commenting on Buster Keaton’s publicity shot for The General, where the actor’s head is missing while there is an excess of cannonballs lying around, the authors offer an initial approximation to the object of comedy as that which frames the subject caught between a palpable absence and an empty excess. The second part of this introduction gives a chapter-by-chapter overview of the content.


Comedy Philosophy Psychoanalysis Performance Laughter 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Utrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.University of LjubljanaLjubljanaSlovenia

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