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What makes something Funny?

What makes something Funny?

Comedy is a fine art, and an art worth your learning

Kenny Fantastic

When I was down in Melbourne I went to amateur comedy nights and hung out with a lot of comedians. I was always curious as to what made them tick and how they prepared themselves for a show. After a while I started writing my own comedy but never really got there because I didn't dedicate enough time to it. It definitely seems like an all or nothing process in order to be truly great at it.

When this video came out it was great because it show me what different comedians think about when coming out with content. So I have put together some of my favourite bits with a discussion on what I think they were trying to express and some of my views about their comedic process.

“for me a funny idea is like a piece of fruit sometimes, it gets ripe and then starts to rot” Louis CK

Here are some questions that I got from the talk that I have gone on to answer. CAN YOU PLEASE ANSWER SOME BELLOW IN THE COMMENTS SECTION AND I WILL ADD THEM INTO FUTURE POSTS.

# How does an act evolve?

How do you evolve an Act - is it like sour dough bread where you are taking some of the best bits and improving upon every time or are you trying to develop a whole new recipe from scratch.

# Are Comedic Artists like Music Artists?

Compare this to music artists where when you go to a show do you want to see then perform their new album or their greatest hits. You probably want to see a bit of both if you are a real fan, but this does depend on what type of person you are I guess. This also depends on the artist too because some artists have periods of amazing insight where every single show they do (that is new) is amazing. This would definitely quench your thirst when it comes to wanting more from a comedian.

‍One of the most interesting things about this video that I commonly bring up in conversation is Jerry Seinfeld and how he does not like to use swearing in his acts.

# Does swearing make your act better or not?

One of the most interesting things about this video that I commonly bring up in conversation is Jerry Seinfeld and how he does not like to use swearing in his acts. He mentions the part of a joke that was getting laughs was because he was swearing and how he didn't like that the only way the joke could work is if he was to swear in it. Do we love the swearing because it is someone’s emotional state being pushed to an extreme what do we just love swearing. The comedians explain it sometimes the swear words are used out of fear, fear of the show not going well, Fear of the joke not working and fear of not trusting that you can’t convert what you are preaching.

Jerry says that the F Word is like a corvette. Louis CK interprets that as his opinion being that it is a cheap flashy less sophisticated way of telling a joke. For some people a corvette would be a fantastic thing to be associated with so I think that corvette that joke telling is definitely a style I would identify with, as would Louis CK.

# Are they coming to see you or the act?

Well they are coming to see your brand of comedy, whether it is old or new is up to the comedian I guess.

# Is there a any tips for seasoned comedians that want to be better?

This is a concept that has been running around in my brain that Louis CK said; “Take your closing bit and open with it just to fuck yourself, so you have to follow your strongest bit”. This is a great idea, it means you don't get too comfortable with your routine and makes you better yourself kind of like a personal best.

Is comedy a competition and are you competing for their affection?

It does seem like it is the battle between business and artistry. Some comedians don't care whether their audience likes them, whereas other comedians see their likeability as a pass or fail.

# Do you remember the time you found another kid that was funny?

Maybe comedy does start when someone makes you laugh because they get your humour and know-how to activate it. Sometimes this person referred to as the class clown when we are younger. And when he/she is punished for the same traits that we revere in our comedians are we destroying possible future comedians?

When someone is falling apart in front of you is it okay to find it funny and how do we draw the line?

# Is it impossible to stop bullying if that has a basis within comedy?

# How do you gauge whether your joke worked or not?

Apparently in the 80s everyone would clap and this is quite hard to handle because you don't want to break the mood of the joke. If they do clap and you do stay in the mood, the suspense can improve the joke.

# As a comedian do you have to teach your audience how to get the joke you are telling?

Louis CK says that Chris rock teaches his audience by repetition. This makes me think whether or not the comedian controls the journey and teaches the audience how to get a joke. At the same time is it their responsibility.

Chris Rock say's that Louis CK is the whitest nigger he knows.

# Is talking about race something that ties us together by noticing our differences? 

I found it quite interesting when they talked about the use of the word nigger and comedians that say it and the ones that don’t. Some comedians separate themselves on where their lines are that they choose to cross or not. For some, the lines have been crossed before and have now become

# As a comedian are you above the audience or below the audience and does this matter, or is it all just an illusion? 

By being the only one in the room talking, does that make you above the

# Was your first show good or bad and does that have any influence over the future of your career. 

I think we can say for certain that your first show is going to be a bit crap but

# When do you become a real comedian?

They discussed that the time that you feel like you are a real comedian is when you find a great joke and it kills on stage. Is this true? I'm sure some comedians doing comedy for the wrong reasons would say that you should be making money from your art and this is true to a point so you can do it full time, but I guess this comes back to business versus artistry.

# Can anyone be funny? is it something that can be learned and practiced or do you have to have IT. If a comedian plays safe they could have a fast trajectory in their career but it is sure to be less effective over time. 

# Is it wrong to go for the easiest laugh? 

‍ it doesn't seem professional to get easy laughs from what these guys say. They say that easy laughs and cheap laughs don't exist.Well

# Can you be proud of your shit jokes?

It must be hard as a comedian to have a shit joke that does better than the jokes that have taken days to write. I guess this also depends on what makes the joke shit.

# When you laugh at a joke, are you laughing at how it's being said or the context?

Jerry Seinfeld says that “Sometimes you can't be the one who decides why you like something?”. I like this because this is your true humour that you genuinely find funny, even though you can't help. I like the idea that we don't have a choice.

# Do you do sound check before you can get up on stage?

There seems to be a fine line between being prepared or working with the excitement of doing something on the fly. This really expresses what type of comedian you are and what pushes you in the right direction that leads to a good show. You can definitely see some division when ever this topic is brought up amongst comedians.

# Is there anything you shouldn't joke about?

Louis CK says that you should take people to a place where they’re feeling fear and be able to help them work through that through comedy. I think Louis is right on the money with this and that concept seems to be a great goal to strive for.

# Is It the comedians responsibility to believe that comedy is the be all and end all and that there is no responsibility to be held when making a joke?

Chris rock says “talk about what they do, not what they are” which I think he's great advice. Somehow it feels like Louis CK can get away with anything especially when he is able to make rape jokes. I think this is because being able to say something that is so unbelievably not true it then becomes funny. On top of this shocking can be funny as well, weather we like it or not.

# Should you do an encore?

The Comedians seem to think that if you're show goes for a long time you shouldn't need to do an encore because you have done enough. You can also see that this part of the act is similar to a music show in that you can choose how you would like to finish. Some like to crack out one of their classics, others a new J the audience hasn't heard before, some finished with a Q&A and some just say thank you walk off. I'm sure this also depends on whether the show went well or not too.

# Can anyone be a comedian?

Professional comedians offer a high octane professional service when it comes to comedy. They know how to make you laugh better than you can make yourself laugh because that's what they do. They study funny and know the psychology behind why you think something is funny and they play to that.

and thats why we love comedy

Here is the video that was the source of all my inspiration