When extreme tension and hostility is broken by laughter
Alternate Name: Laugh It Off
Related To: Everybody Laughs Ending, Gallows Humor, Laugh with MeLaughter that deflates the tension built up over a scene or sequence. Laughter is a reaction normally associated with good humor, shared insight, and merriment being had. Other times, it signals that your are not going to get shivved in the back. Tension-Cutting Laughter is that second kind, the kind that says "Ah, so the Don doesn't think I'm a rat selling him out to the Feds" or "So Bob isn't going to kick my ass for insulting his daughter" or even simply "Mary does get I was kidding about selling her cat on eBay." It is akin to an exhale of relief after a particularly tense bit of drama has been wound up, the source of which is usually a misunderstanding. Tension-Cutting Laughter is an efficient way for writers to build and release tension rhythmically throughout a narrative, and as such should be viewed as a Plot Device unrelated to whatever it is the characters are laughing about. The laughter could be in response to anything, whether it be the ridiculousness of the situation, something new and unrelated entering the scene, or even a joke. It could even simply be just laughter on its own, apropos of nothing. The point is it cuts the tension, allowing the audience to relax a little. Can be a source of Mood Whiplash, doubly so if the Tension-Cutting Laughter is followed by the revelation that the one laughing actually is taking everything seriously. This will often be found in stories employing Gallows Humor. May be the key ingredient in an Everybody Laughs Ending. Sometimes doubles as a Laugh with Me moment.