Beginner's Guide/Obvious

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Blunt sarcasm rarely gets the laughs that subtle language and creative, crafty allusions do. While Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, Lewis Black, and numerous other political/deadpan comedians make us laugh by being sarcastic, there is more to it than just sarcasm. It is witty observation, combined with delivery. A written delivery cannot be varied to the degree that a stand-up comedian can vary theirs. Vocal delivery includes body language and tone, as well as facial expressions and atmosphere. Lewis Black is funny because he spazzes out. The closest you can get to spazzing out on a computer is by TYPING IN CAPS, or by EMPHASIZING words with various forms of TEXT FORMATTING. These are hardly impressive.

  • Case in point, "Jonathan Swift v. Unfunny Blowhard":
"I think it is agreed by all parties that this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom a very great additional grievance...
I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food..." (Taken from Swift's "A Modest Proposal")
This is far more clever, subtle, and humorous than:
"Ireland is overcrowded! Look at it, there's people everywhere! God forbid our government do something about it! I mean, who would want a GOVERNMENT that actually takes responsibility for its people? Let's eat children instead! Some American dumbass told me they make for good stew! IT'S THE PERFECT SOLUTION!"

In essence, written humor is not "Whack-a-mole;" it is more like Tetris. Calculated subtlety and cleverness gets you the high score in Tetris; mashing the "drop" key makes you lose, while the people around you point and laugh. Force is not at the heart of written comedy.

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