12 November 2018 | Story Rulanzen Martin | Photo Rulanzen Martin
Laughter is a serious business
Prof Julian Hanich shared twelve types of laughter that you can find in the cinemas

Did you know that there are 12 types of laughter at the movies or that we laugh in relation to others? After attending the So funny! So ridiculous! On Laughter in the Cinema public lecture by Prof Julian Hanich, it becomes apparent that laughing is not a laughing matter.

The Department Art History and Image Studies hosted acclaimed German film studies academic, Associate Professor Julian Hanich on Monday 5 November 2018 at the Visual Media Hub on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS). There was also a screening of the German comedy Welcome to Germany after the lecture. 

The visit was made possible through the Marco Polo Fund at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. “It is an opportunity for researchers to engage and build relationships with other universities,” Martin Rossouw, Head of department, said. 

Prof Hanich research includes, film phenomenology, cinematic emotions and effect and film styles and collective cinema experience. 

Cinematic laughter bring viewers together

The laughter in the cinema is a more comic type of laughter and the group experiences it differently. “Collective laughter groups the audience together for a brief period,” Prof Hanich said.

Here is some food for thought. Have you ever realised why you laugh or even how you laugh when watching a movie at a cinema or at home? It is often the comical and humorous situations that make us chuckle for sure, but your laughter has more meaning than just being a reaction to what you saw on the screen.  

“Laughing out loud is sometimes a humourless business. We have to take laughter seriously,” Prof Hanich said at the start of his lecture. 

“We laugh with others even though it may not be funny, or we laugh against others because they do not find it funny,” he said. 

In film studies scholars tend to look exclusively at the relation between a single viewer and the film but rarely discuss the relationship between viewers. 

Different types of laughter 

Some of the 12 types of laughter include; eruptive comic laughter. which is a response to a comical incident that overwhelms the viewer; distancing relief laughter for shock or disgust; ironic rededication laughter, which a slightly condescending reaction. Then there is also delighted recognition laughter when the viewer recognises something within the film, and narcissistic joyful laughter, which is when a viewer understands a complex joke that was made in the film.

The aim of this talk was to widen the discussion concerning laughter within film studies. 

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