Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Grades of humour

This is a minor diversion into diagnosing why I like Doug Stanhope.  I'd probably rate him as an unexpected/rant comedian, which is graded pretty high on my categorisation of humour.

I'm not sure about you, but I find it hard to find something amusing.  There only seem to be a few categories of humour that I'm aware of:

Unexpected humour (highest)
I think that the best kind of humour is almost always related to a punchline you don't expect (obviously).  If you know what the joke is as soon as the story starts, there is nothing to amuse you once the punchline finally comes.  It's only funny if the unexpected punchline actually fits, otherwise it devolves into wacky.  Mr Doug - that's all I need to say.

Rant humour (high)
Rant humour is always interesting, as it usually relates to observational but has that angry tang that your brain so craves.  Everyone loves nothing better than a good rant.  Chris Rock is a classic example.  Very funny and mixes in a bit of unexpected, too.

Observational humour (average)
I think humour can also come from being able to relate to the joke - 'hey, I do that thing'.  If you can empathise with the pain or embarrassment of the person that is describing the situation, then you're half-way there to finding something to be amused about.  If they're able to twist a mundane situation on its head such that you see something that was once utilitarian in a completely different light, then mission accomplished.  The king of observational: Jerry Seinfeld.

One-liners (low)
Not a fan of this, unless it has a tinge of unexpected to it.  Steven Wright is probably the only one that I like, as his delivery is so good.  How can you not like a manic-depressive zoloft-popping poor excuse for a human being delivering lines with a degree of enthusiasm that would make an emo ask if he could lighten up a touch.

Wacky/novelty humour (lowest)
The lowest of the forms, although if it is somehow integrated with observational such that it is more of a social commentary, then it can elevate beyond the meagre baseline.  For example, Monty Python manages to improve to the likes of observational at their best.  Carrot Top is probably the worst, as his is pure novelty with one show that he's recycled for the last 20 years.