Elements of humor: a dreadfully boring tome

I know of a few of standard ways that people try to be funny.  One is insults, another is absurdity, and another is wordplay; and then there’s the shock approach.  I’m sure there are many more.


Which you feel most comfortable with depends on your personality.  I’m tempted to go for insults, but I don’t really enjoy hurting people.  Movies, however, aren’t people, so it might be easier to attack them that way.  Especially if you are attacking bad movies.  They just are ripe for insults.

Absurdity is my personal favorite.  You can juxtapose all kinds of strange things that people are not used to finding together, and get a laugh.  You can take movie premises, and exagerate them, or stretch them to the point of absurdity. 

For wordplay, it helps to be really sharp.  You should love puns.  You can riff off titles, or dialogue from the movie.

The shock approach involves taking on taboos, and breaking them.  Typically this means flatulence jokes or a lot of swearing.  Sometimes it means attacking sacred cows (the President, God, etc).  Often the shock approach is combined with one of the other techniques mentioned above.  So, here, you could attack the movie, the movie studio, the director, producer, or the actors.  The more famous the target, the more likely you can be funny, so long as you don’t **** too many people off in the process.

It’s very important to judge your audience, and to know it well.  You need to know what will work, and what won’t.  It’s easy to miss your target with humor. 

Also, most funny people go for the cheap laughs, because they are easiest.  Such comedy appeals to people who aren’t very sophisticated with their humor. 

For a show like mystery science theater 3000, you probably have to be a bit more sophisticated.  At least some of the time, anyway.  Sophisticated humor requires references to history, literature, and that requires a broad education.  Folks with a good sense of humor tend to be well educated, good observors, and have a dark side.  They understand the absurdity and apparent pointlessness of life, and all activities involved in it.

Well, that’s enough free advice.  For a real lesson, dial 555-7867, and I will personally give you comedy lessons at the low, low price of only $2576.23 per hour.  You won’t find a better deal, anywhere.  And if you do, you can give me my money back!

For extra credit, identify two of the five humor techniques employed in the above paragraph.

wundayatta wundayatta
56-60, M
May 27, 2010