What is funny or comedic is both a universal constant across all humanity, and yet paradoxically it is also a historically contextual form. We can find the humor in the plays of the Greek playwright Aristophanes or England’s Shakespeare, yet their comedies do not speak upon the present, and we could easily say the opposite is true. Even now, things that we considered funny twenty years ago are now considered unfunny.
Put simply, comedy evolves reflexively upon itself to find out what is funny and comedic within society at large; and it is a craft that has been developed and refined for as long as humanity itself.
Being funny is an art. No one is born with the “funny gene.” In fact, comedians spend years honing their craft. The same skills can be learned by anyone, even someone just looking to be a little funnier in the breakroom.
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“Genres” of Comedy
Anecdotal: Greek: anecdote: unpublished. Personal stories that may be true/partly true but embellished
Anti-humor: indirect humor in which the joke teller delivering a joke which is intentionally not funny
Black/Dark Comedy: comedy involving disturbing subjects like death, drugs, war, or other taboo subjects
Blue comedy: typically sexual in nature, using profane language, sometimes using gender or race based humor
Character comedy: derives humor from a persona invented by a performer. Often drawing from stereotypes
Cringe comedy: comedy of embarrassment, the humor derives from inappropriate actions at inappropriate times. Usually popular in tv and film
Deadpan comedy: Not really a genre per se, but a method of telling jokes without changing emotions or facial expression
And that’s not all
Heritage comedy: genre in which a comedian speaks on humourous traits/stereotypes about their own cultural heritage.
Improvisational comedy: unplanned comic routines, popular in TV
Insult comedy: a form consisting of offensive insults at the audience or other performers.
Mockumentary: parody using the conventions of a documentary. Used extensively in TV and Film
Musical comedy: humor derived from music with lyrics
Observational: pokes fun at everyday life, inflating the importance of the trivial or the silliness of something that a society accepts as normal
And there’s more!
One-line joke: joke delivered in a single; usually pithy, concise
Physical comedy: similar to slaptick, uses physical movements and gestures, influenced by clowning
Prop comedy: relies on props, everyday objects used in humorous ways
Shock humour: uses shock value to a strong negative as well as comedic emotion
Surreal comedy: form of comedy based on bizarre juxtapositions, absurd situations, nonsense logic
Topical comedy/Satire: relies on headlining/important news/current events. Popular on TV
Wit/word Play: an form based on clever, subtle manipulation of languages (through puns and being crude)
Practice Makes Perfect
You may not be the most hilarious person on your first attempt, but if you keep going, you’ll eventually get there. Give yourself permission to fail. Learn to take yourself less seriously. Being funny is an art form, and it requires a lot of time and work!