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Barney Frank's Humorous Keynote Identifies Comedy as a Rhetoric Weapon

By: Vasiliki Marapas - Dec 9, 2014
References: youtube
In his humorous keynote, retired Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank discusses how humor, and specifically ridicule, can be leveraged as a weapon.

First and foremost, humor can be used as a coping mechanism. It is a resource that we utilize when the demands and pressures of our career become overwhelming. Those who recognize the capacity of humor to help us perservere in periods of high stress also have the opportunity to enjoy their jobs more fully.

More importantly, humorous statements have the capacity to create a "double polemical impact." Speaking from a political perspective, Barney argues that a comical statement is more likely to remembered, and therefore, considered. He gives an example of his own: 30 years ago, President Reagan wished to make abortion illegal, stating that "life begins at conception." On the flip side, however, he cut down all the programs that aided the support and well-being of children, prompting Frank to retort that, for the Republicans, "Life begins at conception but ends at birth."

Lastly, Barney notes that ridicule, in specific, is a powerful rhetoric weapon. Anyone that opens themselves up to potential ridicule immediately weakens their argument. All in all, comedy is a persuasive and memorable tactic to captivate audiences and gain favor among them.