There are many different types of humor. What one person finds to be funny may be completely different from what another person may find to be. One type of humor is known as black humor, finding comedy in aspects of human suffering or the more morbid aspects of existence. Black humor often uses force and taboo to make light of certain subjects. It is also known as gallows humor. Blue humor, in contrast, relies on topics related to sex or foul language.
The term “black humor” was first coined in 1935 by Andre Breton, who used it for his book Anthology of Black Humor. In that book, Breton credited satirist Jonathan Swift for creating the genre, most famously with his article “A Modest Proposal,” in which he suggested that the solution to poverty and overpopulation in Ireland was eating children. Black comedy, or dark comedy, has been derived from this sense of humor by attempting to provoke laughter through taboo subjects.
Black comedy has also been used in motion pictures. Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove is one of the more famous examples. Not only is the entire film a satire of nuclear destruction, but also the film ends with one of the characters riding a nuclear bomb towards its target. Another famous example is Monty Python’s Life of Brian, when in the final scene a host of characters being crucified break into the song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”