Saturday, August 16, 2008


Overly Specifc Humor

When I was in 9th grade English, I learn about the different types of literary humor. There's farce, satire, pun, deflation. I was fascinated that there were classifications of humor. The rest of my life I am constantly thinking about the technical terms for humor. There's the triple, that's where you say two things that are true and the third thing which is untrue and therefore the joke. There's the call-back, which is were you refer to something earlier that was funny again. This is my main source of humor. Timing is also very important and its something I've never quite mastered. I even make up new classifications for my friends' style of humor. MC is always running scenarios while TE does one-off humor. He changes around something known slightly to make it very funny. Main example: Someone left their heroine brick on the hood of their car instead of someone left their cake out in the rain. They'll never have that recipe again.

Years ago I was reading a Calvin and Hobbes book by Bill Waterson. It was one of those books where the comic author talks about this favorite strips. In one Calvin calls his dad who is working late and demands a bedtime story. His dad looks at the papers on his desk and makes up a story about the evil patent infringement. This was the first time Calvin's Dad's profession as a patent attorney was discussed. BW said he thought it was funnier to be more specific by going with patent attorney instead of just any old lawyer. Patent attorneys are more boring anyway and therefore make Calvin funnier.

The show I love watching lately that really embraces the overly specific brand of humor is The Middleman. Wendy doesn't live in any apartment. she live in an illegal sublet she shares with an equally adorable starving artist roommate. When ever they mention the Hooters type-restaurant BootyChest, someone says, "You mean the pirate themed restaurant with scantily clad waitresses?" Lacey's mom isn't mom, she always referred to as Dr. Tracy Thornfield, MD, PhD. I may have her first name wrong. You should be watching this.


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