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Three forms of irony in comedy - a study based on the TV shows Seinfeld and Friends
2001 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor)Student thesis
Abstract [en]

This paper is a study of how irony is used in comedy. The main aim was to establish which form of irony is most commonly used. The three forms of irony that I chose to study were verbal irony, situational irony and the use-mention theory of irony. Verbal irony is when the speaker says one thing but means the opposite. Situational irony is an unexpected turn of events. The use-mention theory of irony or echoic irony as it is also called is when an utterance that has been used earlier is repeated. For example if the weather forecaster in the morning says ‘Today the weather will be lovely’ and the rain starts pouring down, it is echoic irony if someone repeats the utterance later. The study is based on two American sitcoms, namely Seinfeld and Friends. Two thirty-minute episodes of each show were recorded and then analysed thoroughly. The ironic sequences were written down and then categorised according to the form of irony they belonged to. Thereafter the ironic sequences were counted and a comparison was made between the two shows. The results show that verbal irony is the most common form of irony followed by situational irony. These forms of irony were used almost the same number of times in the shows studied. The biggest difference was in the usage of echoic irony. Friends used this form of irony more than Seinfeld. In conclusion it can be added that irony was used in a majority of comical situations in both shows, this shows that irony is a very important feature in the type of comedy that is widely appreciated by a large TV audience.

Abstract [en]

This paper is a study of how irony is used in comedy. The main aim was to establish which form of irony is most commonly used. The three forms of irony that I chose to study were verbal irony, situational irony and the use-mention theory of irony. Verbal irony is when the speaker says one thing but means the opposite. Situational irony is an unexpected turn of events. The use-mention theory of irony or echoic irony as it is also called is when an utterance that has been used earlier is repeated. For example if the weather forecaster in the morning says ‘Today the weather will be lovely’ and the rain starts pouring down, it is echoic irony if someone repeats the utterance later. The study is based on two American sitcoms, namely Seinfeld and Friends. Two thirty-minute episodes of each show were recorded and then analysed thoroughly. The ironic sequences were written down and then categorised according to the form of irony they belonged to. Thereafter the ironic sequences were counted and a comparison was made between the two shows. The results show that verbal irony is the most common form of irony followed by situational irony. These forms of irony were used almost the same number of times in the shows studied. The biggest difference was in the usage of echoic irony. Friends used this form of irony more than Seinfeld. In conclusion it can be added that irony was used in a majority of comical situations in both shows, this shows that irony is a very important feature in the type of comedy that is widely appreciated by a large TV audience.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2001. , 24 p.
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-53675Local ID: ENG C-12OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-53675DiVA: diva2:1102235
Subject / course
English
Available from: 2017-05-29 Created: 2017-05-29

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Citation style
  • apa
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  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
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More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
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  • nn-NB
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  • Other locale
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