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What makes something funny.

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The title of this thread describes the question.


I am trying to come up with a "Magic" formula / flowchart which somebody could follow to try and make jokes.


I am more importantly looking for patterns which could suggest certain things being associated with funny.

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You're looking for the patterns that set up something to be funny, not the material itself, right? Because subject material is highly subjective. One of the funniest jokes I've ever heard is so horribly offensive in its subject matter that most folks can't look beyond that to see how brilliantly funny the joke really is.


Triplets are always a good pattern (a priest, a lumberjack and a gynecologist walk into a bar...). Words with b, d, g, k, and p are generally funnier sounding than words without them (aardvark is a funnier word than anteater). The sounds of them are occluded vocally, making them start and stop suddenly, which is good for comedy. Exaggeration is always good, as is a vast disparity between objects and people (an ant walks up to an elephant...).


Misdirection is a favorite as well (Steve Martin told this joke about being sad that his girlfriend died. "In a way, it was my fault. She'd been drinking heavily and wanted to leave the party. I told her I should drive and asked for her keys. She refused, we argued some more, she insisted on driving, so I shot her."). Lead the audience down the wrong path, make them think they know what's coming, and then spring something completely off the wall at them.


There's more but that's a start. Thanks very much, ladies and gentlemen, I'll be here all week.

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  • 4 weeks later...

While enjoying the posts here, I couldn't help but wonder why the particular question had been threaded in this particular sub-forum...but anyway.


Yes, I do think that one prime factor for laughter is entailed in the last paragraph of Phi for All's post. The 'false positive' effect tied in with the 'warning reaction,' is thinkably the prime precursor for laughing (the evolutionary line).


As a side note, I was a big The Three Stooges fan back in those days of reruns.

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