Real life basis for evil villian laughter?

This probably doesn’t have a factual answer, but bear with me here.

I’d assume everyone knows the loud “mwah ha ha ha” style villian laugh. When did this cliche first pop up in fiction? I don’t mean the quoted section itself, but any over the top crazed laughter that an evil person does when something bad happens.

Has anything been written to suggest that any real life evil people had a maniacal style laugh? Simply saying that they laughed at tragedy wouldn’t be enough to consider it the insane type of laughter this thread is about though.

Early behavioral theorists hypothesized that socially inappropriate laughter could be an indicator for psychopathology.

I’m not sure if this hypothesis ever got confirmed or debunked, however.

Not “mwa-ha-ha-ha” exactly, but I knew a guy who laughed at everything the way most people laugh at dirty jokes. It was, sorry to say, simply his normal laugh, and it was creepy as hell.

As you were.

For a pop culture beginning, I would personally bet that it began with the radio. For instance, The Shadow begins with a rather evil laugh (though by the (shadowy) good guy.)

I don’t recall reading it in fiction except Batman and other comics until modern day. The Joker was introduced in 1940, and The Shadow radio program in 1931, so that works out nicely.

If it existed prior to that, I would personally guess that it would only have been in live performances, rather than fiction. I wouldn’t be too surprised if Punch and Judy or such would have had maniacal laughter, but Commedia dell’arte would most likely have had guffaws not scary laughs as even the bad characters were more comical than scary. Unfortunately I don’t recall whether there was or wasn’t maniacal laughter in the one commedia dell’arte show I saw (by an Italian troupe that supposedly inherited the tradition), but like I said, I don’t believe they did.

I’ve never seen a Punch and Judy performance, so I couldn’t speak for it.

How strange. Last night I was watching Return of The Jedi, and thinking about Jabba the Hutts maniacal/humorous, “Ho Ho Ho”, thought of asking this exact question.

I think this thread will fare better in Cafe Society. I’ll move it for you.

Gfactor, General Questions Moderator

I betcha it originated in old-timey stage plays. This Word Detective column, about the word “brouhaha”, kind of hints in that direction. (To me, “brouhaha” sounds a bit like the evil laughter)

I’ve never heard that before but it makes sense.

I didn’t think about old stage plays. I could see that. “Brouhaha” would fit with what the OP is about.

I did wonder about that, but put it in GQ because of the section of the OP on real life villains.

Ah, morality plays… They snuck in with the one form of playcraft that I know little to nothing about.

I guess we’ll never know, but I’d be surprised if evil laughter wasn’t part of ancient Roman plays.

Could a mod correct the thread title? Nah, skip it.

Now will you marry me, my pretty?!! [sound of train approaching]

I would go for very,very early talkies where the actors from silent movies were still into overacting but thats just a guess.

This topic makes me think of Dishonest John’s signature “Nyah-ha-ha!”