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Self-deprecation is communication that expresses something negative about its originator, without this being called for in context by some other person. For example, an admission of guilt is not self-deprecation, but emphasis of the extent of one's guilt or an unprompted negative criticism of oneself is.

Self-deprecating humor is humor which relies on the observation of something negative about the person delivering it. Many comedians use self-deprecating humor to avoid seeming arrogant or pompous, and to help the audience identify with them. In this way, its use could be seen as an application of the rhetorical concept of ethos.

Rodney Dangerfield was best known for his self-deprecating humor in his stand up acts, with his famous line "I get no respect."

A number of other comedians, including Chelsea Handler, Paolo Alcota, Craig Ferguson, Conan O'Brien, Chris Farley, Chris Tucker, Steve Harvey, Sinbad, Adam Carolla, Jon Stewart, Artie Lange, Dave Attell, Larry the Cable Guy, Woody Allen, David Letterman, Sean Rouse, Nick Jones, Louis CK, Larry David, Ricky Gervais, Jo Brand, Zach Galifianakis, Jim Gaffigan, Iain Lee, Dave Hughes, Cathain Pratt, Johnny Vegas, Brian Regan, Jim Norton, Dave Chappelle, and, later in his career, George Burns, built much of their acts around their own perceived unattractiveness, weight, age and/or lack of appeal to the opposite sex.

Self-deprecation can also be used to better oneself in social situations, albeit unethically. [1]

Self-deprecation also refers to making negative statements regarding one's own appearance or abilities, such as saying "I'm so fat" or "I'm such an idiot", often with the intended result that their friends tell them that they really are not. Statements and patterns of behavior such as these may indicate self image or self esteem problems.

References


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