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Gamarra, E. (2001). Down on Yourself: Perversion in The Nutty Professor II—The Klumps. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 82(4):811-814.

(2001). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 82(4):811-814

Down on Yourself: Perversion in The Nutty Professor II—The Klumps

Review by:
Edward Gamarra

There is a strong connection between comedy and perversion. Freud's formulation of infantile polymorphous perversity, Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel's linkage of the perverse strategy to creativity (1988a), and Louise Kaplan's (1991) observations about perversion's use of stereotypes and its demand for performance, are all strikingly similar to observations about comedy within film scholarship. Without using psychoanalytic language, many comedy scholars point to the comedian's regressive behaviours and to the audience's pleasure in both scatological scenarios and the upheaval of social norms. Both comedy and perversion foreground, in their enactments, the dissolution of reality while defending against anxieties generated by gender and generational difference as well as incestuous wishes. Both consciously embrace routines in which victim becomes victor, small becomes big, inadequate becomes adequate. Understanding comedy as perverse, one can begin to glean fruitful insights into both phenomena.

This review assumes that films are successful primarily because of their ability to generate pleasure in audiences. No genre exemplifies this better than comedy, with its obvious measure of laughter. Many critics comment that human universals instigate the most laughter in the most people. Love, death, sex and bodily processes can all be anxiogenic. Comedic texts typically work from such anxiety. Laughter's catharsis signals resolution. That this film can negotiate such potentially dangerous terrain with such success indicates that it shares with its audience a cluster of anxiogenic issues and a pleasurable—read comic—manner of addressing them.

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