Sep 28, 2012

10 Reasons Why Comedy is Incredibly Hard to Write

Photo by Surapan Boonthanom

One thing people don't get is that even bad jokes are hard to write. This is why I don't write comedy, or hardly ever try. It's always hardest to be funny when you're trying.

Three things must be in place for your jokes to work. You need context, you need delivery, but you also need a receptive audience. Some people find Jimmy Carr hilarious, but he can be incredibly offensive — and he's certainly not playing to a crowd that would enjoy... Cavemen?

Now, I didn't set out to explain what humor is, but I did write the ten awful vignettes below, which  — I hope — will deepen your appreciation of stand-up comedians and the people who write for them. Before you heckle anyone, remember this: it's not you upon that stage.

A man walks into a bar in climbing gear.
"You a mountain climber?" the bartender asks.
"Yes," says the man, "I'm climbing Mount Sobriety."
"So what're you doing in here?" asks the bartender.
"Gotta start at the bottom and make my way up."

A femur, a driver's license and a dirty sock walk into a bar.
The bartender commits himself to a mental hospital.

Three bartenders walk into a bar.
"You guys mountain climbers?" the bartender asks.
There is a shootout and Catwoman sneaks out the back.

Four bartenders walk into a morgue.
Zero bartenders walk out.

Five bartenders walk into an abandoned hospital.
Six bartenders walk out.

Six bartenders walk into the Amsterdam zoo.
The vultures are not amused.

(Have you ever stood really close to a vulture? They stink.)

Seven bartenders walk into a peep show.
The vultures are still not amused.

Eight bartenders walk into the Taj Mahal.
Somehow, this too fails to please the vultures.

Nine bartenders break into the vulture cage at the Amsterdam zoo.
"Fly, feathered friends, take to the skies!" They bellow in a paroxysm of fellow-feeling for those ugly birds that smell like a century of broken hopes. "You are free!"
Says one vulture to the other: "You take the four on the left."

Ten mountain climbers walk into a bar.
"Did you hear the news about those bartenders in the zoo, yesterday?" One of them asks the bartender.
"No, I didn't. What happened?" the bartender asks.
"They tried to turn all the vultures loose, and boy, those birds were hungry, 'cos they swallowed them whole. It was a regular smorgasbord. All they left was a femur, a driver's license and a dirty sock."


by John Gould

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