“Reading, Writing, Rowling” Episode 27: “Humor and Harry Potter (Part 2)”

J.K. Rowling’s comedy helps us connect with the darker themes of the Harry Potter story.



Join us for Part 2 of our discussion of “Humor and Harry Potter,” in which we continue our conversation with Emily Strand (Mount Carmel College of Nursing), Louise Freeman (Mary Baldwin University), and Caitlin Harper (NYDA – Harry Potter Alliance, New York City). Exploring humor theories, we analyze how Rowling’s comedy works and its effect on the reader. We talk about how the laughs are balanced out by frightening and tragic moments and how so much of the tragedy in the books stems from jokes gone wrong.

The movies, too, are full of funny moments, and so we consider the different ways the films make us laugh, from the actors to music and pithy lines well delivered. The Harry Potter series has also sparked a whole industry of memes, wizarding world music, and theatrical productions created by fans who add humor or point out previously unnoticed comic moments and situations. From “Dark Lord Funk” to Puffs, Potter Puppet Pals, and Potted Potter, we ponder the nature of these fan works and how they amplify (instead of undercutting) the serious themes of Rowling’s writing.

Rowling’s other works have not always been quite so funny, so we consider the humor in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Casual Vacancy, the Cormoran Strike novels, and Fantastic Beasts. Even in less humorous stories, Rowling’s ability to capture personalities, classically human interactions, and the absurdities of life gives her artistry an intrinsically comic style. Her use of humor invites readers and viewers into her literary perspective so that we are open to her more serious and challenging ideas.

Did we name your favorite funny moment? Please join the conversation via email (ReadingWritingRowling@gmail.com), Twitter (ReadWriteRowl), or our Facebook page! We’d love to hear from you.

Laurie Beckoff

My Harry Potter journey began in 2000 when I was six and continued through a bachelor's thesis and master's dissertation on medievalism in the series. I'm a Gryffindor from New York City with a passion for theatre, fantasy, Arthurian legend, and science fiction.