When we think of the apocalypse, what are some things that come to mind? Whether you think of brain-eating zombies or a worldwide nuclear attack, they all boil down to one main outcome – the end of the world. Sounds scary, right? As humanity itself begins to face extinction, it would not be surprising for us to be overcome by a sense of despair and loss. Undoubtedly, the last thing we would expect in such life-threatening circumstances is the existence of humour. How could one possibly laugh when facing their own demise?
Contrary to our expectations, in recent years, a significantly greater number of apocalyptic texts have begun to incorporate various elements of comedy into their illustration of the apocalypse. As such, these texts have not only successfully conveyed humorous themes across to their audiences but have also effectively used their comedic devices to complement their apocalyptic storylines. Thus, our issue aims to investigate the interactions between the comedic and horrifying apocalyptic elements of such texts.
Firstly, we delve into the precise and strategic incorporation of humour in The Cabin in The Woods (2012). Hirwan Shah’s Apocalyptic Humour: The Usage of Comedy in The Cabin in The Woods analyses how this movie intertwines the usage of horror and comedy in its execution. He shows how the precise transformation of comedy from the standard laugh-out-loud comedy in act one to the comic juxtaposition used in act two and finally the dark and absurdist comedy in act three, enhances the creeping threat of the apocalypse in the movie.
In addition to analysing the transition of comedy to horror in the apocalypse, we also discuss how classic comedic devices such as “cuteness” can be utilised to disguise the reality of the apocalypse. Julian Ong’s Wall-E’s Wondrous World analyses how cuteness and humour influence the reception of the apocalypse in this movie. He shows how cuteness masks the horror of the apocalyptic backdrop and how humour changes the way we view the evidence of the apocalypse, masking it behind a façade of funny performances and adorable graphics. In that sense, he argues that the humour of the film transforms our reading of the apocalypse into an event that is benign and palatable instead of the terrifying reality that it truly represents.
Beyond comedy’s role in distorting the terrors of the apocalypse, we go on to understand how humour can be used to convey specific themes and characteristics of the protagonist in apocalyptic texts. Jolene Joan You’s The Unlikely Hero: How Humour Works in the Hero’s Favour in Love and Monsters analyses how humour works in the hero’s favour in this movie. She explores the ways in which humour and the apocalypse can interact to produce an interesting and unusual take on heroism in apocalyptic films. The humour thus complements, not problematises, the more serious apocalyptic film, forming an interesting narrative of the typical hero’s journey.
Finally, we shift our focus towards the audience of apocalyptic texts and investigate the differing perceptions of comedy and horror in such texts. Anushka Ashirgade’s Chaos of Humour and Horror: Undefined Viewership and Perceptions of the Comedic and Horrific Elements in Gravity Falls explores the perspectives of both younger and older audiences towards the highly-acclaimed children’s animated television series, Gravity Falls, and aims to exhibit how the show strategically utilises its humour to appeal to the innocence of its child audience while garnering popularity from its adult audience through the incorporation of more fear-invoking themes.
All in all, our issue explores the different ways in which apocalyptic texts incorporate elements of comedy into their stories of despair and hopelessness. From the use of seriocomedy in The Cabin in The Woods to humour’s influence on heroism in Love and Monsters, we see how the role that comedy plays in portraying the apocalypse varies from text to text. However, one thing we can all agree on is that it does indeed enable us to laugh. And when we face death, the last thing we expect to do is laugh. Nevertheless, laugh we shall.
Will you join us?