Historical Rhetorics/Should We Read Quintilian?/Waisanen, Don. "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Decorum: Quintilian's Reflections on Rhetorical Humor."
Waisanen, Don. "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Decorum: Quintilian's Reflections on Rhetorical Humor." Advances in the History of Rhetoric 18.1 (2015): 29-52. Supplemental Index. Web. 8 November 2015
Quintilian expands discussion of rhetorical humor from Cicero’s excursus on the subject, explaining that for humor to be persuasive, it should be urbane—conscious of the society it serves. In a historical overview, Waisanen posits that even in Quintilian’s time, Roman citizens still had some rights concerning free speech, though orators probably enjoyed these rights less than commoners. Critics of De Oratore argue that Cicero is too eager to defend humor’s purpose in rhetoric, but Waisanen chooses two points from De Oratore to explore in Quintilian: Cicero’s urbanitas, which Waisanen links to both kairos and epideixis, and the need to develop a pedagogy for rhetorical humor. Though Quintilian may have been limited in explaining the purpose of humor in rhetoric by social tensions, Institutio Oratoria’s book six discusses the need for humor to moderate and be moderate. Humor should not be too rustic, nor too cultured, and Waisanen finds this Goldilocks approach to be useful for contemporary critiques of humor and its place in society.