Artistic Proofs

Thing I appreciate: Self-deprecating humour
Thing I don’t: Humour that deprecates others.

Self-deprecating humour is related to Ethos, one of the “artistic proofs” in rhetoric. Ethos is an appeal to the honesty, authority or qualifications of the individual. In humour this would be an attempt to identify with the audience by describing what a terrible state the comedian is in.

The other artistic proofs are Pathos (an appeal to sympathy or emotion or a need for justice) and Logos (appealing to the audience through facts and figures).

A compelling argument should touch on all three. To argue the point, you have to be clear that you are being an honest broker and there is no ulterior motive or that you are uniquely qualified to make the point – this is your Ethos. This will the lend authority to your Logos – the facts and figures which will help the audience make a decision based entirely on rationality. Lastly – Pathos – especially if the audience can relate to a miscarriage of justice or how life has been unfair to someone – will drive the point home and silence anyone. Taken in any order they work fine – appealing to those who need authority, those who need facts and figures and those who are controlled by their emotions.


  • I’ve been working with these people for five years and I think this should be done for them.
  • Based on the costs, it’s extremely affordable at only a pound a week. That’s less than 15p a day.
  • They need this to live, it’ll keep a roof over their heads. Isn’t that a basic human right?

The arguments above can obviously be recycled. These could be applied to starving families in drought-plagued Ethiopia or the recent government bailout of our banks and financial institutions.

Apologies for the odd segway into artistic proofs but I had something to say and it seemed a little whiny without a little more meat.

About matt

Gamer. Writer. Dad. Serial Ex-husband. Creator of The 23rd Letter, SpaceNinjaCyberCrisis XDO, ZOMBI, Testament, Creed. Slightly megalomaniac
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