‘The Odd One in’: In her book on comedy, Alenka Zupančič quotes the following joke from Ernst Lubitsch’s film Ninotchka: ‘A man goes into a cafe and asks the waiter for a cup of coffee, without cream. The waiter goes away, but returns again within a couple of minutes. “I’m so sorry sir” he says. “We don’t have any cream. We have milk though. Would you like your coffee without milk instead?”’

The conference assumes that the insistence of such equally negative and positive, absent and excessive objects is constitutive for the aesthetics of comedy. In the world of comedy, things, bodies, and words develop a stubborn obstinacy: Inanimate things come to life, individual limbs turn against the organic whole of the body, words have quite literal effects. Especially film comedy – from the ‘quasi-bodies’ (Rancière) of slapstick to the odd semantics of screwball comedy, up to the new mutations of comical audio vision in digital media – is an inexhaustible laboratory of such a strange surplus negativity – a ‘disjunctive synthesis’ (Deleuze) of plus and minus, excess and lack. Film comedy adheres to a logic of nonsense in which coffee without cream is precisely non-identical to coffee without milk: the positive negative.

The conference aims to address these paradoxes of film comedy’s positive negativity from a variety of theoretical angles.


Friday 5 May 2017
(Moderation: Drehli Robnik)

10:00 Sulgi Lie

10:30 Paul Flaig
Bergson’s Boffo Laugh

11:45 Coffee Break

12:00 Garrett Stewart
Syntactic Short Circuits, Comic Disjunctures:
Dickens, Bergson, Keaton – and Beyond

13:15 Lunch Break

15:00 Sulgi Lie
The Joys of Alienation. Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights

16.15 Coffee Break

16:30 Alexander García Düttmann
Melodrama and Laughter. On Visconti

17:45 Coffee Break

18:15 Gertrud Koch
The Comical Condition: Visual Strategies in Chris Marker

19:30 Reception


Saturday 6 May 2017
(Moderation: Daniel Eschkötter)

11:00 Christiane Voss
Pre-Cinematographic Objectivity or:
Dioramatic Oddity

12:15 Coffee Break

12:30 Ute Holl
What’s so Funny About Doors? Towards a Theory of Structural Jokes

13:45 Lunch Break

15:30 Lisa Åkervall
The Humor of Auto-Tune: Voice Modulations in Digital Media Ecologies

16:45 Coffee Break

17:00 Damon Young
Zany, Sexy, Funny? Ironic Indeterminacy in Contemporary Media Aesthetics

18:15 Concluding Remarks

In English

Lisa Åkervall (Dublin)
Alexander García Düttmann (Berlin)
Daniel Eschkötter (Dresden/Vienna)
Paul Flaig (Aberdeen)
Ute Holl (Basel)
Gertrud Koch (Berlin)
Sulgi Lie (Vienna/Basel)
Eyal Peretz (Bloomington)
Drehli Robnik (Vienna)
Garrett Stewart (Iowa City)
Christiane Voss (Weimar)
Damon Young (Berkeley)

Organized by

Organized by Sulgi Lie (Research Fellow, IFK Vienna) with generous support of the Volkswagen Foundation

The event, like all events at the ICI Berlin, is open to the public, free of charge. The audience is presumed to consent to a possible recording on the part of the ICI Berlin. If you would like to attend the event yet might require assistance, please contact Event Management.

KV Cinema and Comedy