The Comic Intrusion

Peter Berger, in Redeeming Laughter: The Comic Dimension of Human Experience (New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1997):

"Conceivably, the experience of the comic is rooted in the human propensity to play. It may even be describable as a form of playfulness, but if so, it is a very distinctive form. Perhaps this distinctiveness is disclosed by the fact that only human beings laugh, while they share with animals the capacity to play. Finally and very significantly, while there are perceptions of all sorts involved in playing, the latter remains primarily a form of action. By contrast, while the comic may be represented by specific acts, it is primarily a form of perception, a uniquely human one. The comic is perceived as the perception of an otherwise undisclosed dimension of reality - not just of its own reality (as a player perceives the reality of a game), but of reality as such. The comic intrusion is the occurrence of this perception in every possible realm of experience."