The “comic frame” was proposed by philologist Kenneth Burke** as the cure for scapegoats and drama in our personal and collective life scripts. Here is roughly how it works.
Along the harmony we are trying to play, that is the fidelity and inner coherence of our life stories, we hit bum notes. Many and everyday.
Whether these bum notes ought to become the center of our attention or “mere passing notes” constitute the only one decision we have to make.
Because from a ridig point of view bum notes are a flaw or a mistake, they radicalize and polarize our interpretation because we look for the ones (including ourselves!) that could be responsible, even guilty, of the so-called mistakes. Clearly, without bum notes, we end up playing shrunken melodies !
If we center our attention on the overall harmony (what we dig doing), then the bum note becomes “a mere passing note” in Kenneth Burke proposal… and then becomes the pilar for the comic frame from which the bum note is opportunity for self-derision.
Burke, K. (1969b). A rhetoric of motives (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Burke, K. (1970). The rhetoric of religion (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Burke, K. (1973). The philosophy of literary form: Studies in symbolic action (3rd ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.