The Use of Features of Real Speech to Create Humour

The Use of Features of Real Speech to Create Humour
Introduction Features of real speech such as hesitation, fillers, pauses and false starts are not common features in scripted material. The main reason for this is that, in real life, these features serve the purpose of giving the speaker time to think about what they are saying before they continue talking. In scripted material this is rarely necessary because characters are only expected to say things that are relevant to the story in some way. Therefore each character knows exactly what they need to say and can say it without using any features of real speech at all. However, there are some examples of scripted material that will deliberately use these features to create an effect. I have decided to look specifically at instances of scripted material using these features to create a comedic effect.
The reason for this is that I have a strong interest in comedic writing and find this subtle form of humour quite intriguing. I want to be able to find the line between using features of real speech unnecessarily and using them to create humour. I hope that by finding this I will be able to understand more about how these features work and when they are most likely to be used in scripted material. I plan to do this by looking in detail at comedic transcripts, particularly one from the TV sitcom, ?The Office? as the context of this comedy is likely to contain features of real speech. Methodology The data I have collected is a series of transcripts from TV shows and sitcoms. I decided that this would be the best approach as I will be able to analyse how the features of real speech are used and the effect that this creates. I will be looking at the use of real speech in terms of pragmatics, semantics and grammar in all of the transcripts that I need to analyse. I think these analytical frameworks will be the most appropriate frameworks to analyse as it?s often implied and shared meaning that leads to comedy; I also chose to look at the text in terms of grammar as many features of real speech will be grammatical, such as pauses. I think it will be best to start with the transcript from ?The Office? because the context of the sitcom means that it is likely to include the most features of real speech. I will then be able to compare the other texts to this and find out what the effects of these features are. Analysis ?The Office? For ?The Office? I have found a short transcript from a scene in which the lead character, David Brent, is addressing an employee. The idea behind the scene is that David knows he is being filmed and is trying hard to look cool for both the camera and the employee. He uses some strong semantics in the form of gestures and body language. This includes pointing at the employee, winking at the employee, miming typing a C.V. and finally gritting his teeth as he realises he has said something stupid. Most of these gestures are simply attempts to look cool for the camera. However, gritting his teeth is a feature of real speech because he didn?t plan to say what he said to the man on the phone. Gritting of teeth is a good feature of real speech to use for comedy because it implies that the character has done something wrong and realises how stupid they must look. In terms of pragmatics, David uses a lot of initialisms and colloquialisms, once again, to try and look ?cool?. However, he uses some of them inappropriately, another feature of real speech. For example, David says ?I can make that dream come true too, a.k.a, for you?. ?A.k.a? is known to stand for ?also known as?, so what David effectively said was ?I can make that dream come true too, also known as, for you?, which doesn?t make any sense. Another example would be ?you talk the talk, you do not walk the walk, vis a vis you have not yet passed your fork lift driver?s test?. ?Vis a vis? means ?in relation to? or ?to face something?, so this sentence makes no sense whatsoever. This is quite an unusual feature of real speech, especially to be found in scripted material, but it creates excellent comedic effect. While David is trying to sound intelligent and look ?cool? for the camera, he is only succeeding in looking like an idiot. In terms of grammar there are various pauses in random places, for example, ?The man who gives the jobs in the warehouse? is a personal friend of mine, alright?? This pause doesn?t really contribute anything to the comedic aspect of this script, but it does make the scene more realistic in the sense that it is more true to real life; pauses aren?t always planned and therefore can happen spontaneously in the middle of a sentence. Conclusion From my analysis of this script I have concluded that features of real speech can be used to create a hilarious comedic effect. This accounts for the success and popularity of ?The Office? as a sitcom. I have also concluded that its particular features of real speech, used at a particular time, which create the most humour. Features such as pauses and fillers rarely create a successful comedic effect because they tend to happen spontaneously in real life anyway. In this particular script, the most successfully humorous features of real speech are the gestures and the incorrect use of lexis. The gestures are done, deliberately exaggerated, so that the character appears to be showing off in an exaggerated manner. This is humorous because, whilst he is trying to look ?cool?, he simply looks foolish. The incorrect use of lexis is humorous because the characters intention is to appear intelligent by using lexis and phrases that he would not normally use; the result is that he appears to be quite stupid. From this, I can conclude that features of real speech are capable of creating humour, but are not always used for that purpose. Also, the features of real speech tend to be most successful in creating humour when they are exaggerated beyond the degree to which they would normally be used.

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