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Comedy: the "why" of funny (IB English)

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Nicole Kronzer

on 21 March 2018

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Transcript of Comedy: the "why" of funny (IB English)

and many other types
We are focusing on Comedic Texts because you already know how to break down a story (which we'll talk about Tri 2 as well). And, well, because comedy is fun.
Sports Stories
how does it work?

Rule of Three
(aka: Tricolon)
Simple to Complex
What we Recognize
Violation of Expectation
(violation of tenor)

Comedy lives in 3s:
1. Set up
2. Reinforce set up
3. Punchline (breaks the pattern)
Here's one from Jon Stewart:
I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.
The more specific and detailed something is,
the funnier it tends to be.
______ are funnier than ______
Odd Numbers
Even Numbers
Single Syllable words
Multi-syllabic words
Hard sounds (like K)
Soft sounds (like S)
Comedy builds in complexity--
it starts with basic jokes/situations,
and creates humor through increasingly
complicated situations.
You'll often see:
Normal people
in a
weird situation
You'll also see:
Weird people
in a
normal situation
weird people
in a
weird situation
Normal people
in a
normal situation
Remember: Juxtaposition puts two things next to each other that are UNLIKE. Sometimes that juxtaposition creates humor. So...
You won't see:
We laugh at things
we can relate to--either
situations, people, or
When an expected tenor (think back to register: field, mode, and tenor) is violated, we often laugh.

Ex: You're at a wedding and the groom trips.

This rule can also just be anything that flies in the face of our expectations.
"Callback Joke"
When a reference is made to an earlier shared joke.
(think: Inside Joke)
(that's called "Drama")
(cuz that's just weird)
We laugh at things or situations we know we shouldn't, or that we know aren't acceptable in our society.
"Party Games" by Key & Peele
Specsavers "Sauna" advert
Air New Zealand
"Epic air safety video"
Target - Tone - Technique
The purpose of comedy?
Can be to subvert the order of the world, to call into question authority, to point out the oddities of life, and to enact change.

Comedy is often commentary, BUT
Can also be for pure entertainment!
Target: who/what is being commented on by the text/joke
Tone: the attitude of the author/comedy towards the issue.

Technique: the device or method used to create a comedic moment and comment on the target.

7 Words You Can't Say (caution: taboo language)
(Note: you can get the effect of this point by watching the first 2 or 3 minutes...before things get really taboo-y. ;-) )
Buzzfeed: "If Teachers Were Football Players"
Animals talking like British people
(You only need a minute or so of this one)
Wile E Coyote: Supergenius?
Unit 3: Language and Entertainment

Learning Target:
To show how language is manipulated to entertain (and many times to critique society.)
"The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioc" Monty Python
"French taunters" Monty Python
"Offensive princesses"
Exaggeration / Hyperbole
Buble Christmas Duets

An imitative work created to imitate, or comment on and trivialize an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of ironic imitation
Humor created to poke fun at something through various humor techniques for the
purpose of calling out what's wrong with the world and to call for change.
(This is different from parody, which is just poking fun at the ridiculous. Parody does not call for change.)
The Onion:

Often presents itself in one of
two ways: Parody or Satire
The Daily Show:

(Link doesn't work--copy and paste it into a browser.)
Comedy as Commentary:
Can serve as a tool by the oppressed to neutralize stereotypes
Can sugarcoat bitter medicine--takes the sting away from the point you're making
Think of all of the ways this happens in our society: stand-up, shows like SNL, White House Correspondence Dinner--and it goes back a long time. This was the job of court jesters...


"Substitute Teacher" by Key and Peele
Entertainment Texts can include:
Narratives/True Stories
Fan Fiction
"28 Reasons" SNL
Let's take a look at this Key & Peele sketch and identify
all the rules of comedy we can.
y= level of humor
x = time
limit = line of forgetting
Why do some people think something is funny & others don't?
"Sense of humor" depends on someone's range
for the

Too provocative, not funny.
(ex: a joke about 9/11 a week after the attacks)
Not provocative enough, not funny.
(kids' jokes)
Full transcript