Requirements of Comedy

Requirements for Comedy

  1. Be mostly stupid. Comedy doesn’t require you to think scientifically, or mathematically, or philosophically, or logically. You can let your intellect blow away on the breeze, if you like. Or you can let it slip down into your crotch, into your underclothes (front or back, it doesn’t really matter), and then use the groin area for much of your thinking.
  2. Hyperbole greased over by exaggeration and enflamed with excessive lies. Tell lies at every turn. Life isn’t interesting enough for the comedy scene, so spice it up! Make the story funny by adding flavor on the flavor. Never settle for mediocre anything. If the main character is about to die, say they died, not only once, but twice. Let them be eaten by the wild animal, run over by speeding traffic, burned by massive mixtures of chemicals, infested with alien eggs, shocked by putting both hands in the toaster, and consumed by a super colony of angry red ants.
  3. Wax political. Naturally, if you combine the first two ingredients for comedy, stupidity and hyperbole, you come up with a cauldron full of politics. Stir it together and create a magical monstrosity.
  4. Make comparisons of anything and everything. Not everything has an opposite, but everything can be compared to everything else. Because of this, comparisons are limitless, boundless, endless, not to mention, infinite. For instance, if you needed a punchline about nachos, let everyone ponder over how they’re so similar to fingers, wait the appropriate amount of time, then tell them how both go crunch when put them in a vice. Which brings us to our next requirement:
  5. Timing. It should be obvious to not start with the punchline, and it should be obvious to not give the punchline immediately after the lead-in. Let the audience stew over what you tell them. Make them guess a little. They may even come up with something clever and creative you hadn’t thought of yet. Along the same lines, some details should be given in rapid-fire fashion. Pace is part of timing, as much as correlation is. Pacing is not the art of walking across a stage then back again, but the art of sending the audience on a ride at the speed necessary—sometimes that speed is haltingly slow, other times it’s breakneck. Correlation means mixing topics. The art of correlation can be spectacular or disastrous. Having two jokes too close together can create a third mixed image in the audience’s minds. Say you talked or wrote about underwear in one instance and then about flavors and spices in the next. The reader or listener could potentially come away from that with a bizarre image of cooking in underwear. This is good or bad, depending on your intentions. Were you going for the gross-out? Or did you accidentally make your audience sick?
  6. Then, there’s the art of the obscene. Too many fart jokes will establish you as an amateur. Too many gross-outs will most likely turn people away. They’ll begin to avoid your brand of entertainment. Once they know what you’re about, they’ll print a mental category on you, and likely it’s where you’ll stay.

Published by Kurt Gailey

This is where I'm supposed to brag about how I've written seven novels, twelve screenplays, thousands of short stories, four self-help books, and one children's early-reader, but I'd rather stay humble. You can find out about things I've written or follow my barchive (web archive, aka 'blog) at or follow me on twitter @kurt_gailey. I love sports and music and books, so if you're an athlete or in a band or you're a writer, give me a follow and I'll most likely follow you back. I've even been known to promote other people's projects.

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