Gillota’s forthcoming book explores humor in horror

Written by Alison Parkins on |
Dr. David Gillota
Dr. David Gillota

Dr. David Gillota, associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, explores the overlap of horror and humor in American film in his forthcoming book, “Dead Funny: The Humor of American Horror.” Published by Rutgers University Press, the book is scheduled for release in July.

Gillota has been a scholar of American humor for a long time, previously publishing “Ethnic Humor in Multiethnic America” with Rutgers University Press in 2013. Earlier this year, he was named editor of the “Studies in American Humor,” a peer-reviewed scholarly journal. His new book’s focus on humor in horror films originated from his interest in the 2017 film “Get Out,” written and directed by Jordan Peele, an actor and comedian.

“When ‘Get Out’ came out, I immediately loved it and wanted to write about how it mixed together humor and horror,” said Gillota. “I've always been a fan of horror movies, so once I started thinking about the humor of ‘Get Out’ in more detail, I realized that this was a topic that could be explored about the entire horror genre. And that's really what ‘Dead Funny’ is about; it's a rethinking of the horror genre through the lens of humor.” 

The book explores various comic devices and styles used in the past century of American horror film – from the use of monsters and clowns to physical humor, parody and satire – all of which, Gillota hopes, will help the reader view the horror genre in a new way.

“I try to write in a way that is accessible, so I really hope that horror fans can just enjoy reading it. In addition to that, though, I hope that people come away with a sense of the horror genre as a space of play. A lot of people still think about horror as an inherently sadistic or immoral genre. I hope to show, though, there is a lot of intelligence and fun in horror movies, and there is a lot more going on than a lot of people initially think.” 

For more information about “Dead Funny,” visit