Some thoughts of my own...
Humans find chickens funny because their motion is jerky. A man pretending
to be a chicken is funny because of these jerks. People pretending to be
other animals can be viewed as artistic, some ballet and styles of kung-fu
are based on this concept, these are not funny. So the chicken is
fundamentally funny in a way that no other - more graceful - creature is.
The rubber chicken is used as an "inappropriate prop". This means that it
is found in situations where another object should be found. For example, a
business man sitting down in an important meeting and producing a rubber
chicken from his expensive briefcase instead of a diary, and then writing
notes on it, is funny.
An English comedian used to carry a bottle nosed dolphin under his arm and
"dead pan" his way through normal situations. This is another example of
the inappropriate prop.
Hope this helps.
[log in to unmask] Tel 0171 446 3522 dnrc
> From: Arthur Asa Berger[SMTP:[log in to unmask]]
> Reply To: [log in to unmask]
> Sent: 25 February 1999 17:44
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: The double take
> Here's some "top of the head" speculations:
> Is it possible that the rubber chicken can be looked upon as
> a physical parody of a real chicken? An imitation of a text
> (in this case real chicken) meant to amuse...whose artificialness
> is a source of amusement.
> Or maybe "imitation" or "impersonation" if parody is too hard
> to take??
> These are techniques of humor that I explicate in my book
> An Anatomy of Humor (Transaction Books).
> A double-take is a delayed reaction as I understand things...
> would that have something to do with interfering with the
> expectations of audiences about timing...a kind of reverse
> of something like a chase scene that is speeded up?
> It would be universal in that the time element is crucial,
> not the content of the humor?
> Good luck with your project.
> At 07:41 PM 2/24/99 -0500, you wrote:
> >Hi --
> >I am a writer in New York and am working on a pair of articles for GQ
> >magazine's upcoming issue devoted to Comedy. They are to be brief
> >appreciations of/histories of the double take and the rubber chicken. I
> >wondering if anybody out there has thoughts on either.
> >Is the use of the double take (which I personally consider the single
> >funniest thing people can do) at all traceable? Who are some of the best
> >practioners? Has work been done on why exactly we find the double take
> >universally funny?
> >Similarly, has anybody been able to nail down the origin of the rubber
> >chicken? And why is it considered funny? (I sent a similar question to
> >list about a year ago and thank everybody who responded.)
> >Any thoughts or leads on the above would be greatly appreciated. The
> >articles can go pretty far afield so everything would help.
> >Thanks for the time.
> >--Brett Martin
> Arthur Asa Berger, Ph.D.
> Professor of Broadcast & Electronic Communication Arts
> San Francisco State University
> E-Mail: [log in to unmask]
> Tel: (415) 338-1788 (Dept. Office)
> FAX: (415) 338-1168 (Dept. Fax)
> NOTE: I will be on leave the Spring semester.
> You can read my comic mystery novel, THE HAMLET CASE, at my website:
> www.jps.net/aaberger and my articles at: