The psychology of humor: Eddie Murphy

Junior (College 3rd year) ・English ・APA ・3 Sources

Eddie Murphy is a well-known stand-up comedian. A philosophical examination of his humor demonstrates that a variety of theories can be employed to describe his performances. Earlier in his career, his comedy consisted of frequent cursing and routines aimed mostly at isolated groups of people. These groups included white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, Italian Americans, gay people, and those who were overweight. Three major ideas have been used to characterize the philosophy of comedy in an attempt to comprehend it. The purpose of this research is to investigate three theories of analysis of the philosophy of comedy as played by a stand-up comedian. Considering one of the most successful individuals in stand-up comedy: Eddie Murphy, the analysis of his style reveals that his style can.

According to the superiority theory, humor and laughter are meant to express feelings of superiority which may be directed at other people. Also, these feelings could be directed to a previous state of ourselves that had existed before. This is based on the notion that laughter tends to devalue the object when viewed in the eyes of the subject (Ford, Platt, Richardson & Tucker, 2016). The main idea in this theory is that the primary cause of humor emanates from personal feelings of superiority. From the works of Eddie Murphy, it is evident that the feelings of superiority play a significant role in facilitating laughter. As such when we laugh at his jokes, we may not necessarily compare ourselves to the people that he makes fun about rather, we laugh at the odd figures presented in his comedy (Ford et al., 2016). More so another aspect of superiority that is demonstrated by Eddie Murphy is the fact that he shows various skills that we lack. In this regard, when we compare ourselves to the comedian we regard him as superior to us.

With regard to the relief theory, it is believed that laughter has the capability of relieving the nervous energy. This theory is based on biology and ultimately leads to relief through bodily action. As such the release of the nervous energy is believed to be the cause of humor. When the audience laughs at Eddie murphy's comedy, there seems to be a sudden relaxation of evident strain. Therefore, the feelings can be likened to a sigh of relief. This is especially true when it comes to aspects where he tells fictional among some spontaneous, witty comments. In this regard, most of the funny comments are based on sex and others based on hostility. As such when telling a sexual joke, he tends to make sure that we surpass our internal censors and therefore tap in the audience's libido. Additionally, when dealing with a hostility joke, he tends to put down an individual or even a group that he is against or one that he does not like. In all these cases, the psychic energy will become superfluous and therefore will be released in the form of laughter (Lintott, 2016). In accordance, it can be seen that most of the people who enjoy Eddie murphy's comedy are not the individuals who repress sexual and hostile feelings rather they are the individuals who express.

The incongruity theory, on the other hand, argues that laughter emanates from the perception of an unrelated event or occurrence. Such an event is likely supposed to alter how the mind of individual functions as well as surpass the mental expectations of an individual. In this regard, coming up with a joke requires that the comedian thinks of abstract ideas under which several ideas can be produced (Karlen, 2016). In most cases, Eddie Murphy uses the setup and punch line technique to deliver the joke. The first part of the joke will be the set up while the punch line is the final section which will go beyond the expectations of the audience. The idea is to ensure that the beginning of the joke is incongruous with the ending of the same. As such the cause of the laughter is the inconsistent and unsuitable situations that have been brought together to form a match. In some instance he makes fun of his father died in one of his stunts demonstrating a good example of an incongruity. He finds it applicable to integrate dark memories of his childhood to bring about funny moments (Karlen, 2016).

The comedy of Eddie Murphy is based on the coordination and the integration of the three theories. The philosophical analysis of Eddie murphy's comedy reveals that the theories are intricately intertwined so as to bring about laughter. However, the analysis of this comedy leans more on the incongruity theory as it reveals the technique that the comedian uses in standup comedy. As such philosophical analysis of humor considerably describes the nature of the comedy as it appears. Understanding the humor helps in eliminating the already existing negative impression that has been placed on humor. In conclusion, standup comedy revolves around life's incongruities as demonstrated by Eddie Murphy.


Ford, T. E., Platt, T., Richardson, K., & Tucker, R. (2016). The psychology of humor: Basic research and translation. Translational Issues in Psychological Science, 2(1), 1.

Karlen, P. H. (2016). Humor and Enlightenment, Part II: The Theory Applied.

Lintott, S. (2016). Superiority in humor theory. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 74(4), 347-358.

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