Monday, April 13, 2009

Lesson Six: The First Lesson

Drama is based on conflict.

So is comedy.

At the basis of comedy is the conflict known as incongruity, which is defined as out of place or inconsistent with our expectations.

The heart of comedy is surprise.  Expectations that are dashed.  These expectations can be established by outside factors (personal or societal experiences of the listener) or within the work itself.

The irony of comedy is that funny things are not really incongruous.  They are in the wrong place for the right reason: To create a joke that makes you laugh.

The world looks at things in the normal way.  The comedian must look at things differently to know how to change things just enough to make them funny.  He does not want to change them to much or his effort will slide into absurdism.

Abbie Hoffman has been credited with the line, "Comedy is yelling theater in a crowded fire" (a type of joke called a flip which we examined in lesson one).  You'll notice he did not say, "Comedy is yelling tuna fish in a crowded fire."  There is always a method to the madness.

Comedy is Incongruity.

Comedy is Surprise

Comedy is Context

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