How to be funny

“Why are comedians such good liars? How hard do they work on their jokes? And how important is… timing? Jimmy Carr and Lucy Greeves explain the rules.”

From the Telegraph:

They all laughed when I said I wanted to be a comedian. They’re not laughing now.
Bob Monkhouse

Carr300This Monkhouse gag is funny but, of course, it’s much better heard than read. On paper, a joke is a pale and inadequate one-dimensional version of itself. In fact, a joke scarcely exists until someone has told it and someone else has laughed.

The who, where, when, what and why of a joke’s telling can be more significant that its topic, and no single theory – from Freud’s notion of the joke as a release of suppressed sexual neurosis to Schopenhauer’s definition of humour as a reaction to incongruity – can explain how jokes work.

Even comedy’s greats seem stuck for a proper analysis. When John Cleese tired of questions about where he got his jokes from, he resorted to, ‘I buy them from a little man in Swindon.’ The truth is much more prosaic. Jokes are about 10 per cent inspiration and 90 per cent whittling and crafting – much of it in front of an audience.

More here.