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Reading List, July 2023


We create supplementary reading lists as a way to give you an insight into the inspirations and thinking behind our monthly stories. These reading lists take you behind the story, revealing the process of its making.



Archetype → Humorist

Rasa → Kārunyam


July 2023

Artistic expressions channelling archetype in rasa

  • The Humourist in Karunyam seems to adopt a light-footed approach to difficult truths. What are the artistic characteristics of a story that eases and lightens the tension brought on by a difficult subject matter? It’s difficult to say because there seem to be two polar opposite approaches to art directing such a story. On one side there seems to be an affinity for nostalgic or classic bygone eras; and on the other hand, we see a lot of childlike imaginary worlds. If we had to identify a particular trend amongst the examples below; a popular approach to working with the humourist archetype in this rasa, is their ability to be funny at their own expense; in other words, they don’t take themselves too seriously.

    1. The Tu Vuo' Fa' L'Americano song from the 1958 Italian film Toto, is an example of charm and rhythm being used to evoke the rasa. The Lyrics playfully reference American stereotypes.

    2. Another example of this soft playful storytelling is the 1986 Paul Simon video (and song) You Can Call Me Al, directed by Gary Weis. Here two narratives are happening simultaneously; crossing over one and other at the same time. The colour palette, comical contrast in size between Paul Simon and Chevy Chase, their matching clothes and their childish playful interactions combine, illustrate this archetype and rasa appropriately.

    3. We couldn’t unpack this archetype and rasa without mentioning Bobby McFerrin’s 1988. Don't Worry Be Happy; a video and song that both embody the easy-breezy ramble of the Humourist in Karunyam.

Published ideas of archetype in rasa

  • 2010. The Trickster. H. Bloom, B. Hobby. Bloom’s Literary Themes, Infobase Publishing: The figure of the Trickster is all but universal in the world’s cultures, and generally emerged from shamanistic origins. Folklore and anthropology are essential to the study of the Trickster. This is a volume about the literary theme of the trickster.

  • 1942. A. Camus. The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays. translated by Justin O'Brien. New York: Vintage Books. Translation originally published by Alfred A. Knopf, in 1955. Originally published in France as Le Mythe de Sisyphe by Librairie Gallimard: One of the most interesting thought seeds connecting to the wisdom of the humorist archetype comes through the works of Albert Camus and his philosophy of absurdity. In ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’—where he compares our human existence to the story of the Greek king condemned to roll a boulder uphill for eternity as punishment for his attempts to defy death—Camus suggests that life is, in fact, meaningless. He also suggests that finding joy in life’s meaningless struggle is the only way to overcome the absurdity of the situation. As Camus puts it: “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” Maybe, we are Sisyphus. And maybe, we are shouldering a pointless boulder up a mountain. But what if, meaning is what’s encountered when going up the mountain laughing?

  • 1880. Don Quixote. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (Translated by John Ormsby, 1997). The Project Gutenberg: Don Quixote’s initial reception in the Seventeenth Century was as a work of humour; Cervantes’ ability to reflect and imitate reality through the ironic juxtaposition played a focal role in driving the plot. However, humour’s level of importance becomes clouded with time, as the novel’s distinct link to the circumstances in which it was created and the effects of cultural change could perhaps affect its level of significance in the modern mind. Over time, the humour of this classic story becomes less important than the moral values and literary instruction offered and becomes a vehicle through which the author was able to satirize the overstated chivalric romances of the time and engage with topics of importance.

  • 2023, Live to laugh; unpacking the Humorist. Public Works. What role does the Humorist play in society and how can Humorist brands connect with their audiences through this understanding? This post by us at Public Works is primarily to help our clients understand the Humorist archetype in relation to their business; it sheds some light on the Humorist and how it can be brought out through brand storytelling.

  • What is the effect of humour on memory recall? Does humour or laughter influence memory; does mood influence the effects of humour? Co-authored by Tunku Saraa-Zawyah Tunku Badli and Mariam Adawiah Dzulkifli, of the Department of Psychology, International Islamic University Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

  • Professor Bernard Chazelle (Eugene Higgins Professor of Computer Science) of Princeton University, examines the relation of humour to power. Particularly how humour, whether hurtful or not, can be inextricably tied to a sentiment of superiority, in addition to questioning the liberating power of transgressive comedy, and identifying that it is self-awareness that allows us to inject ourselves into the narrative of humour; through the power of reflexivity, humour itself has become the unassailable force.

  • Hynes and Doty, in Mythical Trickster Figures (1997) state that every trickster has several of the following six traits:

    1. fundamentally ambiguous and anomalous

    2. deceiver and trick-player

    3. shape-shifter or master of disguise

    4. situation-inverter

    5. messenger and imitator of the gods

    6. sacred and lewd bricoleur

Characters channelling archetype in rasa

  • In the 1985 American black comedy mystery film Clue, (based on the board game), directed by Jonathan Lynn, Colleen Celeste Camp plays Yvette the Maid, a young and rather jiggly housemaid. Her costume dress is skimpy, and revealing, and is noticed by most in the story, yet she plays the part without noticing much; she seems to pretend to not notice her obvious presence.

  • 2009, The Invention of Lying written and directed by comedian Ricky Gervais and writer Matthew Robinson in their directorial debuts. The film stars Gervais as the first human with the ability to lie in a world where people can only tell the truth; it plays on the Humorist’s ability to flip ideas and facts and manipulate the truth to their advantage.

  • 2003. Captain Jack Sparrow, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio. Walt Disney Pictures

    1. This character is particularly noteworthy due to its role in the story. Pirate of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski admitted, "The first film was a movie, and then Jack was put into it almost. He doesn't have the obligations of the plot in the same ways that the other characters have. He meanders his way through, and he kind of affects everybody else." Additionally, his character is what is called an “Honest Thief”; it’s an oxymoron often used to empathize, and sometimes legitimize a character’s behavior. Pushed further to one end of the archetype and rasa spectrum, can be made into a sort of anti-hero or rebel-ruler.

    2. Interestingly, the honest thief is what Dave Chapelle calls Donal Trump in his 2022 SNL monologue.

  • In a story we posted in March 2020, we discussed the Hindu god Krishna as a complex deity, who embodies the divine trickster. These tales about Krishna display characteristics associated with the trickster archetype that uses deception and guile to achieve goals, but also challenges our set ideas and shallow greed by pushing us to laugh at what we hold sacred.

  • Who can reconcile the absurdity of life? Perhaps it is those who don’t know they are absurd who can make sense of it. These are the unaware silly characters who can stumble through life with grace. The Tramp was English actor Charlie Chaplin's memorable and iconic humourist archetype is a testament to the role of this archetype in popular culture, particularly in terms of identifying moral issues. A childlike, bumbling but generally good-hearted character that can transcend societal norms and reveal difficult truths.

  • On the other hand, some know the world is absurd, and find a way to play with it. In the 1986 teen comedy film, Ferris Bueller’s day off the story is narrated by the trickster side of the humourist. Here, the character regularly breaks the fourth wall to explain his idea. The internal monologue is both Veeram and Kāruṇyam, but it’s the later note that makes his high school slacker behaviour charming.

  • The 1991 award-winning film The Fisher King, written by Richard LaGravenese and directed by Terry Gilliam, illustrates the two types of humourists in partnership with the complimentary archetypes Rebel and the Ruler.

Channelling the archetype in rasa for business

  • A company that embodies the effectiveness of using humor as a tool to gain approval, it’s Dollar Shave Club. With 28 million views and 152 thousand likes, it’s clear the strategy is popular. In the first 48 hours after the video debuted on YouTube, some 12,000 people signed up for the service. Aside from some Google ads, there has been no other marketing.

  • As an example of a hugely meaningful humourist and Karunyam is the 2011, Australian Metro Trains public campaign: Dumb Ways To Die, to promote railway safety. This story was made to remind metro train passengers to be mindful while using the transportation system; ten years later, in 2021, was acquired, as a franchise for $2.25 million, by PlaySide Studios.

  • Ryan Reynolds' Vasectomy promo video for Aviation American Gin is an example of the humourist speaking in a way that shows compassion. The ending further illustrates the point; He stirs the cocktail, samples it, and says, "Now that is as refreshing as fatherhood." His persona has Karunyam qualities flipping the meaning from a metaphor to a euphemism for the fatherhood experience.


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