CHAPTER 4
Set-up, Punchline, Learn:
The Incongruity Theory of Comedy in Film
Ben Levine
Screenshot 4.2, Professor Keating’s students standing in Dead Poet’s Society (1989).
INTRODUCTION
I’ve always found teachers in film, and real life, to be most
effective when they use comedy in the classroom. In fact, it’s
scientifically proven that laughter inside the classroom is an extremely
useful tool. Neuroscience research has shown that humor activates the
brain’s dopamine reward system, stimulating one’s excitement in the
topic at hand. Similarly, educational research has indicated that humor
inside the classroom can increase retention of information in students
from kindergarten through college (Henderson). When a teacher uses
humor, students become more engaged, the information being taught
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