Jorge J E Gracia's work, “The Secret of Seinfeld's Humour: The Significance of the Insignificant” is an attempt to explore the sociological concepts of comedy and tragedy through the analysis of the successful popular cultural phenomenon that is 'Seinfeld'. In an era where sex, violence and special effects are becoming more prominent forms of popular entertainment (Gracia, 2000.), how is a self professed show that ''is about nothing'' (Gracia, 2000, p150.) so successful with audiences?
What is it that denotes success? How do we determine if something is successful? Obviously for a television show, like Seinfeld, to succeed it needs to gain a certain amount of appreciation from its audience in order to become a popular form of entertainment. The attempt is made to understand the reason why a show is successful (Garcia, 2000) and better its methodologies and patterns so that they may be recreated and reapplied for future success.
What then, is the formula found in comedies such as Seinfeld, that makes it work so well? Is it it's ability to make us laugh? How and why does it make us laugh? Gracia is of the belief that one of the main reasons comedies work so well at making us laugh is that they demonstrate “The Significance of the Insignificant.”(Gracia, 2000, p.149.)
These insignificant things become significant because they are behaviours from our lives that we may often overlook or ignore (Gracia, 2000), but which are easily and universally recognisable characteristics of the everyday, irrespective of gender, race and culture. The show points out things to us we can empathise with due to seeing it occur or experiencing it in our own lives which we often choose to ignore (Gracia, 2000). By putting these little idiosyncrasies on display with the use of television programming we are given the opportunity to view things from a sociological perspective. We are studying our own behavioural patterns by watching the characters on television performing these...
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