Comedy ain’t pretty

08Mar10

Of all the things I write, comedy is the hardest.

You have to pay attention to rhythm and timing, and it helps to be concise. You also have to be silly—but not so much that you sound stupid. And to be extra-funny, you should add an unexpected twist.

The geniuses (Monty Python, George Carlin, Steve Martin and Steven Wright) make comedy look easy. But in fact it’s really, really hard.

That’s why I struggled for five hours this weekend with what should have been a very easy task: to write scripts for five “bits” for a company event.

I thought they had potential. But today when my boss said, “Read them to me out loud,” I knew they weren’t funny.

So I decided to educate myself on what makes for good humor. The first article I happened upon offered this advice:

Analyzing why something is funny is a little bit like trying to fathom why people fall in love. You might be able to do it, but by the time you do, you feel just a little foolish about falling for that person, or that joke.

It’s paradoxical but true: Being funny is serious business.

I used to think that my dream job would be writing for The Onion. Suddenly I’m glad that there isn’t much call for humor in my line of work.



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