Laughter In The Face Of Adversity
It helps to find something to laugh about in a tough situation.


(permanent link) added: 2012-01-28 05:09:24 sponsor: Xandriel (last reply: 2014-03-20 16:37:56)

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Kyouko: I can't take it anymore; it's just way too embarrassing! I can't believe I said, " special attack, Rosso Fantasma". Ow, my sides. My sides!
Mami: Is it really that funny?
Kyouko: Yeah, it is that funny! Hey, I shouted it out once, so now you forgive me right?
Mami: I will not forgive you.
Kyouko: Why? Why are you so hung up on it?
Mami: I just think it's better than fighting while you're afraid. We're always risking our lives when we fight Witches. But then I thought to myself, when we dreamed of our favourite magical girls as children they never lost hope or were afraid.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Farewell Story (3rd drama CD)

You'd expect a hero to express some degree of fear when they find themselves in danger, right? Not all the time. Even as they fight for their life, the hero may well manage to keep a smile on their face, making light of the situation.

Reasons for this perpetually upbeat attitude vary. Most commonly, the character is trying to suppress their fear or just hide it. It could also be that the villain is aiming to break their resolve and the hero wants to show that they won't give in to terror/despair so easily, or they're facing a being that is weak against positive emotions, or it may be a Reluctant Warrior's attempt to distract themselves from all the destruction they're causing.

They'll often encourage their teammates to laugh with them, though different people will have different reactions. Some will think it makes them seem childish or heartless, while others will find that their comrade's carefree demeanour helps them to overcome their own anxiety.

This is usually the favoured technique of The Pollyanna.

Not to be confused with Dissonant Laughter, which is a sign that the character is enjoying the fight a little too much. Compare/contrast Laughing Mad, where the laughter is an effect of stress rather than a way to get rid of it. Related to Tension-Cutting Laughter, except the tension's still there.


Examples

Anime and Manga
  • This happens in the third drama CD of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, "Farewell Story", which focuses on Mami and Kyouko's time as allies. Mami likes to call out the names of her attacks, which Kyouko finds silly and accuses her of not taking dangerous situations seriously. When Mami finds a name for one of Kyouko's attacks ( Rosso Fantasma, which is a Doppelgänger Spin), the latter objects, so Mami says that as punishment she has to shout it out next time they face a witch. Kyouko reluctantly does so while fighting a witch, then cracks up laughing. Mami explains that's the point of calling out attack names, because having a lighthearted attitude helps to stave off fear.
  • In One Piece, Jaguar D. Saul advises young Robin to keep a smile and laugh when things are at their worst because he believes things will get better. Played for Drama when everyone on her island is killed off, including Saul, by the Marine forces--she remembers Saul's advice but finds herself unable to laugh.

Comic Books
  • Commonplace for Spider-Man who is using the smirky, sarcastic quipping and banter to hide how terrified he often is even as he does it anyway. But it also is very good for pissing off his opponents enough that they make mistakes.

Film
  • Bon Cop, Bad Cop: The two titular cops have just managed to escape from the burning house without serious injuries. They take one look at each other, then burst out laughing. The fact the house was full of pot may have affected this, though.

Literature
  • In Harry Potter, the only way to deal with a Boggart (a creature that appears as whatever the person who sees it fears most) is to cast the Riddikulus charm on it, which turns it into something funny. Professor Lupin says that what finishes a Boggart off is laughter.
    • Also, after Lord Voldemort returns, Harry gives Fred and George money to help them open up a joke shop, saying that people are going to need something to laugh about at a time like this.
  • In The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton, Gabriel Syme says "Always be comic in a tragedy. What the deuce else can you do?"
  • Animorphs: Marco. All the time.

Toys
  • BIONICLE:
    We laugh in the face of danger. But sometimes danger doesn't get the joke.
    --Pohatu

Video Games
  • Ace Attorney Investigations: Callista Yew. It isn't clear whether it's just Miles Edgeworth that makes her burst out laughing or the fact that he keeps cornering her, but she starts laughing as the investigations close in on her.

Western Animation

Real Life
  • The mix of hormones normally released into the blood stream in a dangerous situation can cause some people to grin like idiots or even laugh hysterically, even when they are completely aware of the danger. This applies not only to fights etc., but also to distress caused by a social situation, such as getting a heavy public reprimand from a superior.
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