10 Oct 2022


The Nature of Humor and Comedy in Early Animations

Format: Chicago

Academic level: College

Paper type: Essay (Any Type)

Words: 1826

Pages: 6

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Happiness is derived from different sources, for instance, contention, humor, and achievements among other factors that brings satisfaction. The entertainment industry has evolved since the beginning of the 20th century, and it has led to laughter due to the ability of the producers and the changing technology that has enabled better illustration of the creator’s imagination and creativity. Within the entertainment industry, an animated cartoon is a product whose main aim is to create amusement. According to Goldmark and Keil, animators, the primary purpose is to ensure that their creations are humorous to provide laughter to the audience and the humor within the animation cartoon is what creates a market for them 1 . They also claim that the public should not accept the logic of the association at face value but should explore the different ways the animator’s pen was consistently enlisted since it is the primary tool for entertainment. The claims portray that real humor of animated cartoon can only be derived from understanding the creativity of the animator and not taking the actions in literary. Based on these claims, the paper intends to analyze the animation Duck, Rabbit, Duck! Merrie Melodies directed by Chuck Jones and produced by the Warner Brothers in 1953 2 . 

Thesis Statement 

The paper intends to answer the question, “what are the nature and sources of humor and comedy in early ages?” The paper thus proposes to respond to the questions by creating evidence gained by answering the questions below. 

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1. What are different changes that took place during the 1950s that changed the animation cartoon industry? 

2. How does the Duck, Rabbit, Duck animation portray the essence of animator’s pen as the primary tool of entertainment? 

By answering the two questions based on evidence of the changes made in the animated cartoons in the early 1950s, it will provide the changes of nature and sources of humor and comedy. It will also portray the role of animator’s pen in ensuring amusement due to the changes made in the Duck, Rabbit, Duck cartoon. The answers to the question will demonstrate the logic behind over-imagination and reaction, ability to enhance personality and creation of the comedy fool, and the changing of roles of major characters in animation cartoon to create humor. The use of evidence to prove these claims will enable grounds for critical analysis under each section. The last part of the paper is the conclusion, which summarized the major key points and evidence that illustrate the interconnection of the thesis statement and Goldmark and Keil’s claims. 

Topic Statement 

As described in the section above, this chapter intends to analyze the nature and sources of humor and comedy in early animations. Which relates to Goldmark and Keil claims that animator’s main objective is to ensure laughter and the importance of the audience to understand that the primary tool of entertainment is dependent on the animator’s pen rather than acceptance of the logic at face value 3 . The first evidence of is based on analyzing the changes in animated cartoon during the 1950s to create an understanding of the various changes of the nature and sources of humor and comedy. By providing evidence of the changes, it will allow better analysis based on Goldmark and Keil. The second proof relies on understanding the humor and drama in Duck, Rabbit, Duck cartoon. The analysis will be based on analyzing the cartoon and quoting some of its actions as evidence to illustrate that the brilliance of the animator’s pen being the primary tool of entertainment 4 . 

Evidence 1: Changes of animated cartoon in the 1950s 

Since the late 1920s, an animated cartoon was mainly based on silent actions that were humorous. Most of the animated cartoons between the 1920s and early 1930s were just action packed involving animals or un-human toys being given life and the main character in the cartoon would endure unimaginable pain. The reaction from the pain and the last ability of the character to overcome the pain was what amused in the cartoons. Characters were created, for instance, Mickey Mouse who spent most of the time running from the cat 5 . The big animals were always seen to exert their power on the smaller animals, but the smaller animals were cleverer thus causing much pain to the larger animal. 

The essence of such movies was to amuse by ensuring the audience concentrated on the action, but as time passed, there was the need to introduce sound to the animation. Famous directors and producers, for instance, Avery added melodies to the animation giving rise to new heroes in the animation industry in the mid-1930s to early 1940s. The tunes for example, in Disney productions, involved sounds and funny songs. The gag was highly dependent on the action and reactions 6 . 

Verbal usage since the 1942 and melodies since then changed the animated cartoon scope leading to more though of ensuring that the themes, use of slang and the continuous wits by the smaller animal dominated the nature and sources of humor and comedy. Famous characters, for instance, Daffy Duck dominated the scenes between the late 1930s to late 1940s 7 . Daffy was depicted as a funny and trickery character who used his trickery to overcome his challenges. The nature and sources of humor were derived from the over-exaggerated actions. Porky and Elmer were always depicted to be fooled by Daffy no matter their strength. 

The growth of Daffy Duck made him one of the most adored character, but as he grew from the pitied character to one of the self-centered characters in the late 1940s, Jones developed Bugs Bunny into his main character which was evident in one of the best cartoons discussed later in this paper. A good example of the nature and sources of humor derived during the melodies, over-exaggerated action era is evident when bugs bunny sings playing the violin and two characters fight as if giving them the instructions, like …hit, your friend with a stick, poke his with your finger… there was little or no talking until the end when he claims that’s the end. 

The playful melodies and actions that were the nature and humor are evident in “ The Wacky Wabbit” Bugs Bunny encounters the singing Elmer who is carrying a huge sack and tries to mess around with him for his selfish desires. Leading a sequence of singing, running and hunting down of bugs by the Elmer who is there to get gold. There are few vocals as bugs steal Elmer’s golden tooth causing massive frustrations for the Elmer as he tries to get bugs’ golden tooth. His lack of knowing bugs had taken his tooth he is happy when he succeeds to snatch a golden tooth from Bugs, but in actual sense, it was his tooth and Bugs smiles next to him as a sign of victory 8 . The consequence of the action, melodies, and trickery portray the nature and sources of humor and comedy of early animated cartoon. 


The evidence above illustrates that since the 1920s, the nature and sources of humor and comedy have changed in comics. The silent era involved the action of exaggerated running and catching with no sound. The ability of the smaller animal to use their skills to outrun the bigger animal while the larger animal overcame immense pain was the source of humor and comedy. The next era saw the introduction of sound and reaction from the characters either of pain, confusion, or results. The introduction of melodies made it possible to benefit from vocalists like Mel Blanc who made different sounds depending on the character 9 . The tone variation sounds made when in agony or when satisfied and facial expressions to compliment the situation were the nature and sources of humor and comedy thus supporting the claims made by Goldmark and Keil on animator’s main aim is to amuse the audience. 

Evidence 2: Duck, Rabbit, Duck! 1953 by Jones and Warner Brothers 

The use of Duck, Rabbit, Duck! 1953 is essential in demonstrating that animator’s pen is the primary tool of entertainment in an animated cartoon. Jones was not always one of the best directors, but this cartoon was on a different level. Unlike people like Avery and Clampett, Jones was mainly interested in the comic possibilities of limiting the logic of a situation instead of over-exaggerating it. He believed that comedy identity is lost when there are no rules 10 . Thus, Even founded some of the principles of funny animation which would enable him to create a character alternating between complete believability and credible exaggeration. He thus gained experience from working for Avery thus ensuring that he was always strict on ensuring motion of was efficient. In the Duck, Rabbit, Duck! 1953, which is among the best animations, is a hunting trilogy involving Bugs, Daffy and Elmer that began in the Rabbit fire. His creativity of changing characters rather than inventing them is extemporary where he changes Daffy character into the comedy fool who from his previous character was the hero of trickery. Bugs on the other hand, unlike the character in the Wacky, Wacky Wabbit, is depicted as the hero 11 . The transition of these characters makes him be regarded as the pioneer of comedy fool due to the nature of Daffy. 

The cartoon begins with Elmer, who is out to hunt a rabbit, as he points his gun at Bugs’ head, Daffy comes running and trying to spur Elmer to shoot the Bugs due to their rivalry that Daffy is always on the losing side in the end. The calmness of Bugs, who is the victim, and his ability to be steps ahead of Daffy of any trick Daffy pulls, makes the cartoon humorous. Daffy losses all the time as he is shot several times due to Bugs confusing him. Every time, Daffy is shot his facial expression is different and funny before he tries another trick only to come shortly. The cartoon is rich in dialogue and gun action which adds to the nature and sources of humor and comedy. For instance, 

“… enrages Daffy, who attempts to convince that Bugs Bunny is trying to fool Elmer and ordering him to shoot Bugs, prompting Elmer to regretfully point out that he doesn't have the proper license. Exasperated, Daffy writes out the appropriate hunting license but has to ask Bugs how to spell "fricasseeing." Bugs tells him, "F-R-I-C-A-S-S-E-E-I-N-G," adding "D-U-C-K." Oblivious to the trick, Daffy gives Elmer the license ("The fine print doesn't mean a thing!"), and Elmer obediently blasts Daffy. This leads into an extended routine in this short that has Bugs holding up various "animal season" signs to correspond with every figurative expression involving an animal that Daffy gets called (including "goat", "pigeon", "Mongoose" and "dirty skunk") 12

The cartoon is based on irony, and tricks adding to the humor whereas the continuous failures of Daffy and the calmness of the Bugs during all the commotion portrays the efficient use of animator’s pen making it more entertaining. 


The consistency of Daffy failures, continuity, and pain from the shootings is the primary determinant of nature and sources of humor and comedy whereas issues like the irony, trickery and gun action are evident in the entire cartoon thus making it serve its aim of entertaining the audience. 


The two shreds of evidence analyzed to illustrate the consistency of the events during each era while ensuring that repetition is the nature of humor and comedy in animated cartoon. The trickery, irony, running and catching actions are the sources of humor and comedy thus depicting that the two are essential in ensuring the animated cartoon achieve the aim of laughter. Due to the repetition, involved, animators must be able to represent the sequence in different ways either by sound, reactions, or vocals which are only achievable by being creative. Since the animation cartoons during the time relied on drawings and writing, it is evident why Goldmark and Keil made their claims on the primary tool of entertainment being the animator’s pen. 


Cavalier, Stephen. The World History of Animation . The University of California Press, 2011. 

Duck! Rabbit, Duck! (short film; dir. Chuck Jones, 1953). 

Goldmark, Daniel, and Charlie Keil. Funny Pictures: Animation and Comedy in Studio-Era Hollywood . Berkeley, Calif: University of California Press, 2011. 

Sandler, Kevin S, ed. Reading the Rabbit: Explorations in Warner Bros . Animation. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1998. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 16). The Nature of Humor and Comedy in Early Animations.


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