Why is That Funny?

This is a Book by Demetri Martin

Demetri Martin is one of my favorite comedians, hands down. If you haven’t seen his show “Important Things with Demetri Martin,” his stand up “If I…,” or read This is a Book, I highly recommend you check one or all of those things out.

Demitri’s work is pretty simple, but genius in its simplicity. Funny can be so subjective, and not everyone loves him, but he has fun with words and ideas and always seems to find his jokes in this imaginative outside-the-box, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that area. I’m really not doing his comedy justice, but that’s not the point.

Here is the point     .

And here is my point… humor is hard. Even for comedians that clearly have a gift for it, there’s a lot of work that goes into a good joke. I find Demetri inspiring for my own attempts at humor–he challenges me to look beyond the obvious, and then sometimes even to look beyond that. In the same way that you can learn voice and style and story structure by reading tons of fiction, I think you can learn funny just by following the careers of people you find funny. Watch all of their work. Read their books (if they have them). You start to get a feel for the types of jokes they tell. You start to see the punchline before it comes. Then you can apply their worldview to your own worldview and BAM. Funny. You found it.

It’s sort of like stealing. But not stealing. Don’t steal. That’s Shia LeBouf territory and you don’t want to go there.

Who do you find funny? Am I totally over-thinking this whole humor thing? You can say yes, I won’t get mad.

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4 comments

  1. kirsten lopresti says:

    I don’t think you are over-thinking it. I think people do study it. I was at a conference once where an author put up bullet points about how to be funny, then everyone tried to be funny. It was pretty funny!

  2. Kris Atkins says:

    I love Demetri Martin! One of my favorite comedians. YES humor is hard! So so so hard! I did improv comedy so that makes my opinion very qualified, yes? No? Whatever, I still think it’s hard. 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      Oh, I remember you mentioning that before! I think you’re very qualified to opine on that subject 🙂 I think improv itself would be hard–constantly on your toes, making things up as you go along, and then add in the fact that you also have to be funny… I respect anyone who can do all that at once!

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