Seeing a man who walking down the street suddenly slips and falls on a banana peel may strike many as funny because it is not what we have come to expect when we watch someone walking. Our expectation is that walking in the future will follow the pattern of walking in the present. The disruption of our prediction so surprises us that we laugh. As Mel Brooks deadpanned, “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die.”

– Leonard Shlain, Sex, Time, and Power: How Women’s Sexuality Shaped Human Evolution (2003)


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