The Importance Of Comedy

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Comedy is far from scientific, but it is, at least, consistent. Many comedians follow the same routine, where they describe an ordinary event in a funny way, point out something about everyday life that most people do not notice, or simply modify the commonplace in order to draw their audience’s attention to what is missing. The first option, describing an ordinary event, is so common among comedians that it no longer makes a comedian stand out in her field. The last two options, on the other hand, involve several aspects of cognitive science, primarily language and vision. Recognizing and refining these aspects can and, in many cases, already have heightened comedy to a new level of relatability and entertainment. Comedy comes in two flavors;…show more content…
One example would be Chris Turner’s joke, “My girlfriend’s family is quite religious. The first time I went to stay with her at her parents’ house, her dad wouldn’t let us sleep together... which is a shame because he’s very attractive.” The joke’s setup implies that the father of Turner’s girlfriend does not want Turner to sleep with his girlfriend before marriage, only to reveal that he was actually referring to sleeping with her father. Just like Groucho Marx’s famous ‘elephant in pajamas’ joke, Turner’s joke misdirects the audience through what cognitive scientists and linguists call structural ambiguity. The members of the audience make the wrong syntax tree when they hear the first part of the joke, then once their mind recognizes the error it rushes to fix it. The realization that they had made the wrong assumption incites laughter from the audience, which leads to success for the…show more content…
Silent movies frequently take advantage of this, such as in Charlie Chaplin’s movie Modern Times where Chaplin attempts to jump into what both the audience and Charlie’s character ‘the Tramp’ assume is a deep lake, only to discover that it is less than a foot deep. The Tramp hits his head on the bottom and stares at it in confusion as he realizes his mistake. Just as with the misdirection, it is the moment when the audience recognizes where their assumptions were wrong that makes this moment entertaining. Of course, there are many other ways to exploit the mind’s assumptions besides those regarding

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