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Politics and Anti-Realism in Athenian Old ComedyThe Art of the Impossible$
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Ian Ruffell

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199587216

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199587216.001.0001

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Comic Motivation: Jokes and Episodic Plot

Comic Motivation: Jokes and Episodic Plot

(p.112) 4 Comic Motivation: Jokes and Episodic Plot
Politics and Anti-Realism in Athenian Old Comedy

I. A. Ruffell

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the relationship of jokes to plot and argues that Old Comedy is an example of a style of comedy where jokes are not additional to plot but are the fundamental building blocks of plot, through their elaboration into comic routines. Comic plots of this type are characterised by the interplay of comic routines with each other, motivated by theme and above all by the running joke. Such a plot is episodic, in Aristotelian terms, but the chapter seeks to recuperate episodic as a positive and foundational concept. A study of central scenes in Aristophanes' Wasps exemplifies this type of plot formation.

Keywords:   joke, routine, episode, theme, plot, narrative, Aristotle, Wasps

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