Comedy Secret #4961: That How To doesn’t exist.
Still, there is much to learn from the search.
Studying humorists is an excellent start. Most comedians are very generous with tips on technique. They generally respect other humorists and have a genuine interest in expanding the field. After all, the more people (audiences, readers) learn to love humor, the better it is for their career because demand increases.
I’ll be happy to do a show for The Grand Exalted Order of the Magenta Feltberry Lodge…Uh, who the hell are you?
Or, as Robin Williams once quipped:
When I started, I would have played the opening of an envelope.
While learning from other humorists is wholly worthwhile, there are many other sources of humor insights all around us—some quite normal and expected, and some rather strange. All it takes is a little awareness to find useful tips nearly everywhere.
Let’s consider a few not-so-obvious examples:
Billions of dollars are spend on scientific research to cure disease, explore the nature of our universe, and create new breathable synthetic fabrics for underwear that doesn’t bind.
It’s true, science has improved our lives, yet many discoveries can be attributed not to intent, but to one very simple, very human act: A scientist looks closely at some aspect of his world and says to himself, “That’s odd.”
What a fabulous observation! It can also be a fabulous insight leading to your next joke.
If stray cats follow you into a singles bar, reconsider your aftershave.
When I spotted a stray cat outside a noisy club, did I consider it odd? A bit. Is it funny?
My audience thought so.
It takes a very secure man to give a public lecture wearing a toga.
Pick any philosopher at random, and you’ll see he\she offers lessons useful for the construction of humor. Let’s try Jean-Paul Sartre, often one of the most confusing philosophers of modern times. His concept of living without freedom, which he called
Bad Faith can be described as telling ourselves that we MUST live a certain way, and as a result, we close ourselves off from other options.
Does everything in life have to be a certain way?
Deviating from the expected norm may lead you to a more comfortable life, but it could also lead you to a great gag.
I don’t think I’ll marry again. I’ll just find a woman that hates me and buy her a house. – Attributed to Lewis Grizzard and others.
Out of the Mouths of Babes
I firmly believe that the most wonderful thing about children is that most of them aren’t mine.
One day, when my son was three years-old, his grandfather brought him home and announced, somewhat red-faced, that he wasn’t taking my son to a restaurant again until he was older.
They had simply gone out for ice cream! What happened?
Answer: They had gone to a local family restaurant which was known for its many flavors of ice cream. While waiting to be served, my son had stood up in their booth, pointed to a nearby table with an obviously overweight customer and shouted:
Poppy, look at how much food that man is eating!
Everyone in the restaurant looked and laughed, and mortally embarrassed ‘Poppy’ wanted to crawl under the table.
Intentionally looking at the world from the view of innocence, or imagining everything as if it were a new experience, is a great insight, and quite often, just plain funny.
Certainly, comedians can teach us how to add a touch of humor to life, but the truth, often a bit harder to grasp, is that everyone and everything we know teaches humor. That is, if we’re listening.
– Benny Hill