Artistic Analysis #1:How to structure a joke.

Hello everybody and welcome to Pridetoons! For the first artistic analysis I will be talking about joke structure. Joke telling is something many people of our nation love. It's embedded in our TV shows, films, comics, and even in online culture. Many animated cash cows in america revolve around comedy. The Simpsons, Rick and Morty, Family Guy, Spongebob Squarepants, and South Park are only a few animated american comedies, that pull in millions of dollars in from around the world. Unfortunately I see a lot of artist who don't understand comedy. It seems as a genre Comedy is really taking it. The same thing is happening to the Horror genre. Many people don't understand how horror  or how comedy works. Sadly today isn't about horror, but I might talk about it another time. Back to the topic at hand how do we structure a joke. First we need to ask ourselves what is a joke, or one better is to ask what is humor? I've looked all over the internet and read books on this subject. The best definition of humor I've found is from Writing Professor Mary Ann Rishel. She says "Humor is playful incongruity." Before we dive more into what that means, direct your eyes to the diagram below.

 According to the diagram a joke requires two major elements, a setup (A) and a punchline (B). These two clash together and give us a resolution or a joke. You may also notice that at the end of the diagram a joke can then clash with a topper (C). This is optional for joke telling, i'll talk more about this later in more detail. For now let's focus on the basic structure of the joke. The basic logic behind joke telling is A+B= Joke or Setup + Punchline = Joke. How do we come up with both a setup and a punchline? Let's start by looking at some jokes.

Here are three examples of well structured jokes. I'll breakdown and explain the first one for you. The first one is from a comic strip called Maxine. The setup of the joke is "They hold elections in November..." The joke is obviously implying that presidential elections are held in November. Now pay attention to the punchline, because this is were the magic happens."...because it's the best time for picking out a turkey." To understand what makes this joke work we need to go back to the definition of humor. Humor is playful incongruity! You may be wondering what does this have to do with that joke, let me explain. First we setup the joke. you notice nothing funny has happened yet. You see all by itself the setup is just a statement, not a complete joke. We need a punchline, because it contains the playful incongruity that clashes with the setup or statement, thus completing the joke. Back to the joke from Maxine, We look at the word Turkey. As you can see turkey in this context is a double entendre used as a form of wordplay. With in this joke turkey is not only poultry meat you eat on thanksgiving, but also the second meaning below.

How do you find or come up with playful incongruity? In joke telling I find that in most cases people usually have no problem setting up the joke or being playful. The real problem stems from people struggling to find playful incongruity that compliments the joke. Unfortunately you need to find that incongruity yourself. However were I can help you is by telling you common ways comedy writers find playful incongruity for their jokes. Some ways are through wold-play, contrast, comparison, understatement, and overstatement. For now i'll only be discussing the first three. The others will be discussed later. I've already explained word-play earlier by showing you an example of a double entendre. Unfortunately wordplay is such a broad subject it could fill an entirely new post. For now check out the Wikipedia page for word play. Now let's talk about contrast and comparison. A good example of contrast is in the meme from above.

Yes I know the Fry meme is overused, but this is a good meme to show how contrast works in a joke. It starts out saying "Not sure if everything is expensive..." Our statement or setup for the joke. Now for the punchline, "...or I'm just poor." A contrast to the previous statement. The trick is in a joke using contrast, you want your audience to draw the comparison. Doug Walker does this a lot in his web-series Nostalgia Critic. In order to turn a reference into a joke you need a proper contrast to push a comparison. Here are some examples of DW's or NC's Spaceballs references.

Now lastly let's discuss comparison. Look at the following meme.

By looking at both the setup and the punchline we can see the joke is talking about how republicans like Ted Cruz for example think they can ignore the supreme courts judicial power. You may find that using comparison is very similar to contrast, but the only different is that instead of giving your audience the contrast, you hand them the comparison and let them bridge the gap. One pitfall when using comparison is that it requires a good understanding of the subject matter, or else the joke may just go over your audience's head.
Before I end this post I'll tell you about, clashing. When A+B clash this is really your audience putting the pieces together. You always want your audience do dissect and evaluate the joke, no matter how simple or complex. Thanks for reading it's been a pretty rough year for me. I've moved, then I started job hunting (Sadly failing -_-'), I've been all over the place helping my family, I'm a little overwhelmed. I hope this post makes up for the lack of posts. I put a lot of work into it. Unfortunately this isn't a job (At least not yet). I'll keep these post coming as fast as I can. Please subscribe to the blogs rss feed and follow me on twitter for my latest shenanigans. I'll end this post with some funny memes I've found. Also check out I am ARG it's really funny. Until next time my internet brothas and sistas, peace, love, and hair-grease. 

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