What would Sigmund Freud have thought of the Coen Brothers? If the famous thinker’s psychoanalytic theories are any indication, he’d have loved the renowned filmmaking duo. But why? In the third installment of our series on cinematic humor, Why We Laugh, we take a look at Freud’s relief theory and how it manifests in some of our favorite scenes. Freud’s theories rely in part on the idea that our subconscious mind dictates our conscious actions- in this case, smiling and laughter- and his relief theory explains that we often laugh and respond to humor as a way of releasing pent-up psychic energy. So, if you find yourself wondering just why you think it’s funny when one of the villains in Fargo puts Steve Buscemi’s character’s body through a woodchipper, you need not be concerned. Sit back and tune in to better understand how there’s a universal (and perfectly acceptable) feeling at work.
While you wait for the fourth and final episode of “Why We Laugh,” check out our first two episodes, in which we look at humor’s relationship to the superiority theory, and how mismatches make us laugh. You can also kick back and see how Mel Brooks’ meta humor makes us chuckle. And if you have a little more time on your hands? Check out Fandor’s selection of comedies, or our curated spotlight on hilarious movies, HAHAHA!