gallows humor


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gallows humor

Humor that aims to make grim subjects, like death, funny or comical. (A "gallows" is the wooden frame from which criminals were traditionally hanged.) A: "Why would he say a morbid thing like that?" B: "Oh, that's just how Uncle Ned is—he's prone to gallows humor."
See also: humor

gallows humor

Grim ironical humor about a serious subject. The term dates from the late 1800s and alludes to joking about being taken to the gallows and hanged. When President Barack Obama was asked why he laughed when talking about the bad state of the world economy, he replied, with a laugh, “There’s gotta be a little gallows humor to get you through the day” (Sixty Minutes, March 22, 2009).
See also: humor
References in periodicals archive ?
"There's an abundance of gallows humor in John Darnton's new novel, Black & White and Dead All Over, that is appropriate for a murder mystery set in the modern-day killing fields of print journalism.
In the back of the room, between chip munching, legislative aides share the gallows humor with right-wing journalists about getting "murdered in Indiana.
In this new study of the first four chapters of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, we find a logical explanation in Paul's knowledge of philosophic-comic tradition within popular culture, an element of which includes a significant amount of "gallows humor." This treatment examines such topics as traditional interpretations of the "fool for Christ" passages, the provenance of the concept, the generic meaning, confirmation and clarification of the interpretation, the reasons why Paul appropriated the role, and an evaluation of the role.
Lopez extrapolates from the illogical, lobs in some gallows humor, and creates new absurdities.
All the poems in Erica Dawson's group have some of the gallows humor cut with lightness of "Disorder," but none has its clarity and verve.
gallows humor is designed precisely to uncover the naked truth, however painful that flaying may be.
Zingeris writes with a sort of dry gallows humor that serves basically as a protective cover over the deep wound of pity for his evanescent heroes, his love for them, and his fragile pride in their noble humanity.
With an odd blend of cool compassion and gallows humor, Plays Well With Others depicts the '80s as a decade marked by the gay community's great artistic expression and enormous loss.
* Excessive gallows humor: "If the project team begins wearing black shirts to the office, or piping funeral dirges through the Muzak system, you're in trouble."
But all 20th-century ambiguity and gallows humor aside, I must confess I've come around to relics.
For example, police officers often are seen as having a warped sense of humor, sometimes referred to as "gallows humor."(9) The condition results from the many negative aspects of human nature that confront officers on a regular basis.
Although at first glance The Cat Inside looks like a cute little book about kitties, closer inspection will find Burroughs's celebrated irony, gallows humor, apocalyptic fears, brutal lyricism, and mythological interests.
Commonly referred to as gallows humor, it is used by groups in dire circumstances to help them endure their fate by looking it in the eye and laughing at it.
Having spent a good portion of his youth in jail, he utilized this experience as the basis of his two plays, The Quare Fellow (1956), a memorable exercise of gallows humor, and The Hostage (1958).
Voigt's gallows humor keeps heavier scenes moving while also acknowledging what's at stake if he cracks under pressure.