Sometimes when life becomes too stressful, or a situation threatens to explode with drama, a humorous comment or action can relieve the tension. It may be a momentary distraction from the drama, or it may heighten the emotional impact by acting as a contrast to it. In literary works, this technique is called “comic relief.”
|comic relief (Allwords.com)|
- Narratology. The inclusion of a humorous character or scene or witty dialogue in an otherwise serious work, often to relieve tension.
- Dutch: vrolijke noot
- French: soulagement comique
- German: komische Entlastung
- Italian: rilievo comico
- Spanish: relevación cómica
Here are a few ways you can incorporate comic relief into your story (or life).
1. The protagonist may have a witty comeback to a villain’s threats. The James Bond 007 character is a good example of this, as is the Sherlock Holmes character in the movie released last year, or Indiana Jones (my favorite).
2. Another character may act as a foil, adding a lighter tone to the scene or acting as a contrast to the more serious protagonist. The old Batman and Robin duo comes to my mind, with Robin sorely lacking the intelligence to be a superhero (in my opinion!) while Batman was a serious crime fighter.
3. A tense scene may be interrupted by an unexpected event. For example, the character may trip and fall as she turns to leave the room after an argument. Or a child may interpret a stern lecture in a way the parents didn’t intend, causing them to laugh.
4. A suspenseful situation might reach a high point of tension, then be relieved by minor, comedic distractions. In horror stories, for example, the characters often fear that a noise at the door is the monster trying to get in, but sometimes it’s just the cat.
Can you think of other ways comic relief can be used in a story? What examples from literature or movies can you think of that show comic relief being used? How do you relieve a tense situation in real life?