Anecdota

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Debunking the E.B. White Quote about Humor - Joke Structure - Greg Dean



[Applause] so tonight instead of taking a question actually wanted to address something that it comes to me all the time as kind of a question so this is it was a famous quote by EB White who said humor can be dissected as a frog can but the thing dies in the process and everybody seems to love to use this as kind of this oh you because this guy said this and he's a famous writer that you know you can't you can't do that and they're right you killed the frog and dog well you know what for a couple things about this first of all we're not taking dead frogs on stage with us you know kill the frog and then take it out okay you and also doctors I don't want I don't want a doctor who has a dissected a cadaver who's now familiar with all of the workings of my body before he comes in practices on me I want him very well rehearsed before he practices on me so I want him familiar with the entire workings of the innards of my body and my brain and everything else before he digs in so so my answer to this is yes if you dissect a joke it stops being funny it stops being funny to you because you can see the inner workings you can see the two interpretations of one thing but once you know those inner workings once you know this joke structure at least my joke structure it now opens up actually a whole world for you because then you can now look at it and go oh my setup doesn't exactly to rewrite this set up so that the audience buys into that target assumption I need to rewrite my punch to make it shorter and put the punch at the end of the punch I need to make this clearer to understand there's all these little mechanisms in sight of a joke and when you know what they are one you know how to fix a joke and two you know how to write a joke because I've touched in five different ways based upon this model to write jokes so we don't you know analyze it I mean if a joke is working you don't have to analyze it just do it because it's funny and you know it's there it's when you need to fix it when you need to write jokes at will when you need to do all those things or if you want to teach joke structure because when I started there was no joke structure there was no even no term joke structure I asked myself some 40 years ago and well if I'm going to teach people how to write jokes maybe I should know what a joke is so that's the other reason you would dissect it is to get to know what it is what it is so that you like and you know synthesize it and then teach it to you that you have all that knowledge of knowing how to how to fix jokes and how to write jokes and how to write jokes for other people and the very many different kinds of skills and ways you go about constructing jokes there's so much information inside there so just in defense of the reasons why we I dissect humor and dissect jokes is so that I can teach it and you have more knowledge and you learn how to become a comedian at a much faster pace [Applause]

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