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Oliver Hardy was one half of the comic duo Laurel and Hardy, famous in the late 1920 through to the 1940 for their slapstick antics. Oliver Hardy often summed up his feelings of the duos comic calamities with his famous catch phrase.

Now imagine the following scenario; you are interpreting away, it’s all going well and then it happens, your deaf client looks at you with that expression that says “Yeah, and?”, you hear the laughter, your co-worker shrugs sympathetically, your shoulders slump, your confidence drops to your toes, you glance at the speaker and think “well here’s another nice mess you‘ve gotten me into”:  What happened - humour!




image from http://www.laurel-and-hardy.com/home/PICS/l&h2.jpg


Humour inhibites your effectiveness as an interpreter. When it comes to humour, I have often asked myself why, oh why do they do it! And what can I do about it. 

Humour is the subject of many an academic paper and having reviewed some, it seems that humour has a range of functions; it can be use to express solidarity, or power, as a defence strategy or as a coping strategy or simply to amuse. It would seem that these functions can be further subdivided to give an understanding of the strategy a speaker may use. By looking at some of the techniques used to create humour I have been more prepared for when it does happen, but what techniques do people use? Here is a partial list to get you started:

·         Self- effacement and in-jokes

·         Sarcasm, tongue in cheek comments

·         Wit

·         Exaggeration

·         Comic comparisons

·         Anecdotes

(Kahn 1989, Hay 2000, Holmes 1998, 2002, Lee 2006, Lynch 2002, Rogerson-Revel 2007, Thomas et al 1997). Humour is complex and diverse and as an interpreter I have to cope with all forms. Some kind of humour awareness is necessary and recognising why it is being used is the first step to being able to respond to it.  

This is a topic that I will return to again and again.


 



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