The Boundaries of Funniness and the Dilution of Audience Identity in the Musical-Dramatic Art


laughter culture comic opera ballet provocation spectator's identity interpretation communication aesthetic shock meaning

How to Cite

Levchenko, V., & Kovalova, N. (2021). The Boundaries of Funniness and the Dilution of Audience Identity in the Musical-Dramatic Art. Galactica Media: Journal of Media Studies, 3(3), 61-82.


This paper sets out to examine the transformation of comedy in the history of European theatre. Musical performance extends the semiotic space of the original genre into a field of fluid and open meanings and signs incorporating and suggesting many interpretations, some of which are ironic. It is argued in contemporary aesthetics that, on the one hand, art cannot exist without a discourse interpreting it, while on the other, there exists the demand to avoid interpretation, which at once legitimizes the aesthetic effect and castrates the object of art. Provocation is used as an instrument for solving the problems of observing the object of art in a new way and understanding modern reality, and provocation is not complete without irony and self-irony. Wit, irony, and comicality are transformed as fitting into the style of the absurd and deconstructing the border between the funny and the serious. The purpose of such provocations is to put the viewer into a position of uncertainty and aesthetic shock, and this stupor inexorably leads the beholder to encounter the object of art and nurtures a new understanding of their own self. This clash of the spectator’s viewpoint created by provocative shows dispossesses theatre productions of the status of “museum exhibits”. This paper will examine the organicness of elements of the laughter culture and comic devices for musical and dramatic theatre.


Artaud, A. (1994). The Theater and Its Double. New York: Grove Press.

Attardo, S. (2001). Humorous Texts: A Semantic and Pragmatic Analysis. New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Bakhtin, M. (1968). Rabelais and His World Cambridge (I. Iswolsky, Trans.). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Bergson, A. (2005). Laughter, an essay on the meaning of the comic. London: Dover Publications.

Betti, E. (2017). Chapter 7: Interpretation of Drama & Music. In General Theory of Interpretation. London: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform.

Borisov, E. (2006). Preface to the publication of “Hermeneutics as a General Methodology of the Humanities” by E. Betty. In Δόξα/ Doxa. Collected Scientific Articles on the Philosophy and the Philology: Vol. 10: Strategies of the text interpretation: methods and borders of their using (pp. 361–367). Odessa: Odessa National University named after I. I. Mechnikov. (In Russian).

Bourdieu, P. (1991). Le champ littéraire [Literary field]. Actes de la Recherche en Sciences Sociales, 89(1), 3-46. doi: 10.3406/arss.1991.2986 (In French).

Camus, A. (1955). The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays (J. O’Brien, Trans.). Retrieved from

Eco, U. (1984). Postscript to The name of the rose. San Diego, New York and London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Gadamer, H.-G. (2006). Truth and Method. London and New York: Sheed & Ward Ltd and the Continuum Publishing Group.

Gritsanov, A. (2001). Transgression. In Postmodernism. Encyclopedia (p. 842). Minsk: Interpressersvis; Knizhnyiy Dom. (In Russian).

Kan, A. (2017). Le Grand Macabre – Opera for Trump era. BBC News Russian Service. Retrieved from (In Russian).

Kant, I. (2009). Critique of the power of judgment (P. Guyer & E. Matthews, Trans.). Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.

Kovalova, N. (2013). Modern choreographic theater: dance as an “invitation to the Real”. Arkadiya, (1), 22–26. (In Russian).

Kovalova, N., & Levchenko, V. (2016). Immersibility as the mechanism of new artistic reality creating. In Δόξα/Докса. Δόξα/ Doxa. Collected Scientific Articles on the Philosophy and the Philology: Vol. 2: The humanities discourse: diciplinarity, interdiciplinarity, transdiciplinarity (pp. 173–183). Odesa: Akvatoriya. (In Russian).

Levchenko, V. (2017).In search of himself: about the characteristic features of the opera heritage of W. A. Mozart. In όξα/ Doxa. Collected Scientific Articles on the Philosophy and the Philology: Vol. 2: Memory and oblivion (pp. 173–182). Odesa: Akvatoriya. (In Russian).

Mozart, W. A. (1966). The Letters of Mozart and his Family. In E. Anderson (Ed.), The Letters of Mozart and his Family. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK. doi: 10.1007/978-1-349-10654-7_1

Ortega y Gasset, J. (1972). The Dehumanization of Art. In The Dehumanization of Art and Other Essays on Art, Culture, and Literature (pp. 65–83). Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Raskin, V. (1984). Semantic mechanisms of humor. Dordrecht; Boston; Lancaster: D. Reidel Publishing Company.

Ricoeur, P. (1992). Oneself as another (K. Blamey, Trans.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Samohvalova, A. (2011). The phenomenon of the absurd theater on the music scene. Opera A. Schnittke “Life with an Idiot” (PhD Thesis). Moscow. (In Russian).

Serkova, N. (2019). Prohibited Reception. About aura and pornography of art. Art magazine, (108). Retrieved from (In Russian).

Sontag, S. (2013). Against Interpretation and Other Essays. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Starobinsky, Zh. (2002). Enlightenment and Power in the “Magic Flute”. In Poetry and knowledge. History of literatury and cultury (Vol. 2, pp. 445–460). Moscow: Languages of Slavic Culture. (In Russian).

Yampolsky, M. (2015, June 19). “There is no art; there are various anthropological practices of comprehending the world.” Interview on the boundaries of art, the forms of its legitimation and the end of a large style. Retrieved from Postscience website: (In Russian).

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.