Non sequitur (literary device)
A non sequitur (English: / / non SEK-wit-ər, Classical Latin: [noːn ˈsɛkᶣɪtʊr]; "it does not follow") is a conversational literary device, often used for comedic purposes. It is something said that, because of its apparent lack of meaning relative to what preceded it, seems absurd to the point of being humorous or confusing.
A non sequitur can denote an abrupt, illogical, or unexpected turn in plot or dialogue by including a relatively inappropriate change in manner. A non sequitur joke sincerely has no explanation, but it reflects the idiosyncrasies, mental frames and alternative world of the particular comic persona.
Comic artist Gary Larson's The Far Side cartoons are known for what Larson calls "...absurd, almost non sequitur animal" characters, such as talking cows, which he uses to create a "...weird, zany, ...bizarre, odd, strange" effect; in one strip, "two cows in a field gaz[e] toward [a] burning Chicago, saying 'It seems that agent 6363 had accomplished her mission.'"
- The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. Oxford University Press, 2009.
- Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary. http://mw1.m-w.com/dictionary/non%20sequitur Archived 2012-02-18 at the Wayback Machine
- Chambers, Robert (2010). Parody: The Art that Plays with Art. Peter Lang Publishers. p. 75. ISBN 978-1433108693. Retrieved 2014-09-17.
Along with a rhythmic pattern, these jokes, however absurd they may be, build dual frames of reference, if not alternative worlds entirely reflecting the idiosyncrasies of the individual stand-up artist.
- Harrington, Richard (16 June 1983). "The Bizarre Side". www.washingtonpost.com. Washington Post. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
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- Getting It: Human Event-Related Brain Response to Jokes in Good and Poor Comprehenders - "When asked to pick the punch-line of a joke from an array of choices, including straightforward endings, non sequitur endings, and the correct punch-line, RHD patients erred by picking non sequitur endings, indicating that they know surprise is necessary"