The Comic in Theory & Practice

By Elizabeth T. Forter; Alvin Whitley et al. | Go to book overview

Dr. Arbuthnot's Academy

FRANK SULLIVAN

Frank Sullivan, Dr. Arbuthnot's Academy," in The Night the Old Nostalgia Burned Down ( Boston, Little, Brown & Co., 1948).

DR. MAGNUS ARBUTHNOT'S ACADEMY for the proof of puddings has attracted so much attention in educational circles that I paid it a visit recently, and I'm most happy to report that it is really a remarkable experiment in ultramodern, freewheeling cliché-testing.

The academy was a hive of odd activities the day I was there. Dr. Arbuthnot himself I found in his office grappling playfully with a comely young woman, who was laughing uproariously.

"Oh, please, Doctor!" she gasped. "Stop! Oh, ha, ha, ha, ho, ho, ho! Oh, do quit!"

"I beg your pardon," I said, hastily starting to withdraw.

"Hello, there! Come in, come in," said Dr. Arbuthnot cheerily.

"I'm teaching Miss Filkins, here, how to tickle people pink. Now, do you get the idea, Miss Filkins? The right forefinger placed firmly between the second and third ribs, and then you apply the pressure. Shall we try once more?"

"I'm afraid I'll be late for court if we do," Miss Filkins said.[115]

"Oh, your court. I forgot. Well, hurry along, and good luck to you."

Miss Filkins hurried along.

"Smart girl," said Dr. Arbuthnot. "An ex-Wac. Coming along famously with her tickling, but she wasn't getting quite the shade of pink I had in mind. She's really majoring in laughing people out of court. You should have seen her in Part Two, Special Sessions, last Thursday. She cleared the chamber, including three judges, in four minutes and twenty-six seconds. I clocked her myself. When she does it in four minutes flat, she'll get her sheepskin."

"I never knew people actually tickled other people pink," I said. "What else do you teach here?"

"It's hard to say," Dr. Arbuthnot said. "The curriculum changes weekly -- sometimes daily. That's in order to avoid getting into a rut.

-135-

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The Comic in Theory & Practice
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Part I - Theory 1
  • Humour 3
  • Poetics 5
  • Author's Preface to Joseph Andrews 7
  • The Difficulty of Defining Comedy 10
  • A Comparison Between Laughing and Sentimental Comedy 12
  • On Wit and Humour 16
  • On Simple and Sentimental Poetry 22
  • On the Essence of Laughter 24
  • The Expression of the Emotions In Man and Animals 29
  • An Essay on Comedy and the Uses of the Comic Spirit 34
  • Meredith on Comedy 38
  • Laughter 43
  • Laughter 65
  • Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious 69
  • Feeling and Form 81
  • Anatomy of Criticism 87
  • Verbal Behavior 92
  • Introduction to Joseph Andrews 100
  • Some Remarks on Humor 102
  • Notes on the Comic 109
  • The Thread of Laughter 116
  • Part II - Essays, Narratives, & Verse 123
  • My Finandal Career 125
  • On Riding 128
  • Showing Off 133
  • Dr. Arbuthnot's Academy 135
  • You Were Perfectly Fine 141
  • The Catbird Seat 145
  • Laura 154
  • Why I Live at the P.O. 159
  • A Reasonable Facsimile 171
  • A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms 192
  • The Rape of the Lock 257
  • The Cock and the Fox or, The Tale of the Nun's Priest 278
  • The Frogs Asked for a King 300
  • Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes 302
  • The Lemmings: A Philosophical Poem 304
  • Departmental or, the End of My Ant Jerry 309
  • Mehitabel Dances with Boreas 311
  • Macavity: the Mystery Cat 315
  • A Wooden Darning Egg 317
  • The Mad Gardener's Song 318
  • The Flea 320
  • Under Which Lyre 321
  • Part III - For Discussion & Themes 327
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