Black humor--from the French words humour noir--was coined by the Surrealist Andre Breton of France, who decided that the great satirist Jonathan Swift had originated this genre that portrays serious or horrific events in a comic manner with the purpose of treating serious or taboo subject matter lightly in order that people will understand social problems. With Swift as an example, his "A Modest Proposal" is a serious presentation point by point of a logical argument why the British should eat Irish babies because doing so would boost the economy. With the precision of an economist, Swift point out that certain children should be slain for purely logical reasons such as being too costly,
I am assured by our merchants, that a boy or a girl before twelve years old is no salable commodity; ....
A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends;
All the while the readers chuckle at the ridiculousness of this outlandish suggestion, but at the same time they realize how terribly the British have been starving the Irish. Certainly, the proposal of cannibalism is hardly "modest," but once the readers are shocked, they quickly perceive the seriousness of manner that has been taken by the author.
In more contemporary times, Joseph Heller's novel Catch-22 has exaggerated characters such as the officers who vie with each other to have platoons of the best precision and appearance. Great efforts and planning go into the organization of these parades while World War II is being waged all around them. The men should be resting on Sunday if they are not in battle and the petty wars of the officers are ludicrous in light of the seriousness of the war. These politicians vie for reputations over trivial matters while at the same time they preach to the platoons, stressing
the importance of the bridg Avignon to the war effort and the obligation of each man on the mission to place love of country above love of life.
Black humor, or dark comedy is clearly the humorous portrayal of incidents which should not be laughable.. It is a type of humor in which people find themselves laughing, but quickly realize the horror that lies beneath the seemingly amusing situation.
A dark comedy is a comedy characterized by grim or satiric humor. It is a comedy having gloomy or disturbing elements. It is usually characterized by morbid an black humor.
The term black humor (from the French humour noir) was coined by André Breton in 1935.
Breton included both examples in which the wit arises from a victim, with which the audience empathizes
examples of dark humour:
A modest proposal by jonathan swift
A meditation upon a broom stick by jonathan swift
M .A.S.H.--a tv show