The Truth Behind Comedy

The Truth Behind Comedy

“I know you think people are going to be interested in this…but they’re not.”

That’s how the video of Jerry Seinfeld, talking about how to write a joke, begins.

Joke writing is not sexy. it’s not fun.

It’s exactly the opposite of what you think it would be.

I won’t waffle on too much because the video explains the idea better than I ever could, especially since it’s one of the greatest comedians on the planet doing the explaining.

There are some things I want to point out though:

COMEDY STARTS WITH TRUTH.

Did you spot the truths in Jerry’s jokes?

“The snack is as nutritious as the box”

“It’s not fresh, because it was never fresh”.

Notice how he takes the truth about Pop Tarts and makes it funny.

it all starts with truth.

SONGWRITING

He talks about shaving syllables and words out of jokes, to get it to flow better, as it’s more like songwriting.

Comedy is spoken, not written. But even written words are read aloud in the heads of the audience.

(That sounds deep and meaningful, but it’s not. It’s just true.)

If you take nothing else from the video, it should reinforce the idea that writing comedy is a craft – it takes work (2 years of work in the case of the Pop-Tart joke!)

2 thoughts on “The Truth Behind Comedy”

  1. Brilliant point and thanks for sharing that video, I thought I had sucked in all the Seinfeld content on Youtube. The only problem with that clip is that it did not last 6 hours.

    The craft aspect is crucial as is, “this is not sexy work”. It’s done because people have some weird thing in their brain that says, must make people laugh, must see things in a way that no one has ever seen things in the history of humanity.

    1. Thanks Lyndon. I do love Seinfeld – both his work ethic and dedication to editing the perfect joke.

      You’re absolutely right. People do this because they can’t NOT do it. It’s a rather strange calling, but an enjoyable one. Being able/willing to look at the world from a different angle is a pretty good skill to have. 🙂

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