Sunday, February 03, 2008

· Humor

I've been thinking a lot about the science of humor. There was a New Yorker article a few years ago that started me in this direction, discussing, among other things, attempts to determine the world's funniest joke and world's funniest animal (a duck).

The other day I turned up a link to a Smithsonian piece by Steve Martin. Martin talks about his early experiments with an audience's expectations of comedy. The result is that the audience doesn't know quite when to laugh, but they expect that something funny has occurred, and there is a buildup of tension that they want to release. Steve Martin, in my opinion, is an interesting comedian because he seems to be one half of a comic duo; a funny man without a straight man. He is absurd but without a yardstick of normalcy except the one we bring ourselves--Bugs Bunny without Elmer Fudd, let's say.

One tip I gleaned from the article: "My routines wove the verbal with the physical, and I found pleasure trying to bring them in line. Each spoken idea had to be physically expressed as well." There is something here that can be directly translated to comics, but I'm not entirely sure how yet.

I'm interested in reading more on the subject, and Martin's recent Memoir, Born Standing Up, is on my reading list. What else is out there?

Aside: Jeez, it's been a long time since I posted here.

2 Comments:

Blogger Fran├žois Vigneault said...

I have his article from the New Yorker (an excerpt, I think, from his memoir) if you want a little preview.

7:08 PM  
Blogger Jonas Madden-Connor said...

Yeah, I'd like to see that. Also, if you have that old article on humor on your complete collection DVD I might want to reread that, too.

7:19 PM  

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