Author Topic: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke  (Read 3142 times)

Barry Admin

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The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« on: September 05, 2021, 10:32:06 PM »
Doesn't it just thrill you? I wonder how they ever come up with them, and how they know it'll work, stuff like that.

I'm currently doolally about the joke around 1:18[1] into this Bobby Chariot bit: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mFoKbYvfpvg

It's like magic to me. You just don't fucking see it coming, and - cause I'm a nerd - I have to sit and follow the logic of it through and work out how and why it actually works.

I just can't imagine how hard it must actually be to write comedy, especially if you don't want to come across as a trite hack. It seems inordinately difficult.
 1. please watch the whole bit first so you're not waiting for that moment, so as to minimise the chance of it being ruined for you.

Rizla

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Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2021, 10:45:11 PM »
Pre-Ted Mathews and Bananacunt were the co-writers on that series weren't they? I'm guessing they mostly did the sketches though, the Chariot bits seem more like Alexei's own stand up, filtered through the character.

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Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2021, 11:01:45 PM »
I know (from an interview with his ex which is on YouTube somewhere) that often Mitch Hedburg would spent months on crafting, experimenting and distilling something funny into the perfect bit: I often think of his bit about dreams; "I hate dreaming because I just wanna sleep. Im fast asleep, and next thing you know, I have to build a go-cart with my ex-landlord.''
a. it's true and b, the choices he's made for two elements,  'building a go-cart'  with my 'ex-landlord', lots of things could 
work there, but I can't think of anything better. Perfect choices for maximum laughs.
He has other jokes too.

BeardFaceMan

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Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2021, 11:07:39 PM »
That's why I've always admired Jerry Seinfeld, his material might not be the funniest stuff ever but its so beautifully written. I have a lot of time for the comics who constantly mess with jokes, trying to get a gag word perfect. I'll just move this word to here to keep the punchline hidden longer, 'blue' needs to be changed to 'purple' because it needs to be a two syllable word instead of one to help with the flow and rhythm of the joke etc, that kind of honing is a bit of a lost art.

Barry Admin

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Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2021, 01:17:42 PM »
That's why I've always admired Jerry Seinfeld, his material might not be the funniest stuff ever but its so beautifully written. I have a lot of time for the comics who constantly mess with jokes, trying to get a gag word perfect. I'll just move this word to here to keep the punchline hidden longer, 'blue' needs to be changed to 'purple' because it needs to be a two syllable word instead of one to help with the flow and rhythm of the joke etc, that kind of honing is a bit of a lost art.

The level of fucking about with words and such does absolutely fascinate me too mate, yeah. Jokes are such fragile little things, it's amazing to me.

Actually I'm just digging out some old Comedy Chat blogs I wrote about all this kind of thing, I haven't read them back yet though so they might be shite X-D

Calling for proper, accurate documenting of comedy by offended people (lol wut):

https://web.archive.org/web/20150303200846/http://comedychat.co.uk/2012/08/27/please-meticulously-document-the-nature-of-your-offence/

And the good old Mexican lightbulb joke!  One of my favourite examples of how a whole joke can hang on a single word:

https://web.archive.org/web/20150303200846/http://comedychat.co.uk/2012/08/30/dissecting-a-frog-the-mexican-lightbulb-joke/


Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2021, 03:13:26 PM »
Loved Stewart Lee being concerned that when wheeled through hospital, his genitals were open to view: 'my penis and my two testicles'.  That one word TWO makes you visualise them more.  Makes them more er, prominent.

Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2021, 03:22:16 PM »
Loved Stewart Lee being concerned that when wheeled through hospital, his genitals were open to view: 'my penis and my two testicles'.  That one word TWO makes you visualise them more.  Makes them more er, prominent.

Stewart Lees stand up in general amazes me and the craft that goes into it, his book detailing it was fabulous, just wish he’d done an audiobook of it!

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Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2021, 03:27:58 PM »
Loved Stewart Lee being concerned that when wheeled through hospital, his genitals were open to view: 'my penis and my two testicles'.  That one word TWO makes you visualise them more.  Makes them more er, prominent.

Isn't it weird how certain jokes like that rely on the addition of totally unnecessary words to make them work, but then with others it's the sheer word economy that makes them? My favourite like that is the classic from Police Squad:
Quote
Who are you and how did you get in here?

I'm a locksmith and I'm a locksmith

Something about using just the fewest number of words to make that joke elevates it. Adding extra words wouldn't make that any funnier. Wish I understood why that was, not least because then I'd have more to ads to this thread. Ah well.

Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2021, 03:35:40 PM »
Something about using just the fewest number of words to make that joke elevates it.

The opposite is also true. So when Stew says he was in the bathroom "Having a wee.....out of my cock". The second part is totally unnecessary but will always get a laugh.

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Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2021, 03:40:24 PM »
That locksmith joke is also a good illustration of how delivery affects a joke. Many performers would introduce some self-doubt into the hesitation, ala:

"I'm a locksmith and... [PAUSING, AS IF DOUBTING THE INTERNAL LOGIC] I'm a locksmith"

But it's much funnier when you hold your nerve and just deliver it smoothly, confidently, as if it's a natural response.

Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2021, 03:46:57 PM »
Stewart Lees stand up in general amazes me and the craft that goes into it, his book detailing it was fabulous, just wish he’d done an audiobook of it!
                        One of his DVDs has an absorbing interview between him and Johnny Vegas talking about routines and performance.  Keep meaning to check out Vegas' act.

BeardFaceMan

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Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2021, 03:49:01 PM »
That locksmith joke is also a good illustration of how delivery affects a joke. Many performers would introduce some self-doubt into the hesitation, ala:

"I'm a locksmith and... [PAUSING, AS IF DOUBTING THE INTERNAL LOGIC] I'm a locksmith"

But it's much funnier when you hold your nerve and just deliver it smoothly, confidently, as if it's a natural response.

That's true, so many performers spoil comedy by trying to be funny. And Police Squad and the like is at the extreme end of that where everything is played as if it's a drama, basically, and it wouldnt really be funny any other way.

Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2021, 05:42:54 PM »
That's true, so many performers spoil comedy by trying to be funny. And Police Squad and the like is at the extreme end of that where everything is played as if it's a drama, basically, and it wouldnt really be funny any other way.

The films got less funny precisely because they started to feature broader comic performances, Frank mugging and gurning for example.

Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #13 on: September 07, 2021, 12:31:57 AM »
Loved Stewart Lee being concerned that when wheeled through hospital, his genitals were open to view: 'my penis and my two testicles'.  That one word TWO makes you visualise them more.  Makes them more er, prominent.

Reminds me of Jeremy Hardy's love of one of Linda Smith's jokes, a description of line-dancing; "like a supermarket queue possessed of a demon." As he pointed out, it's the word 'of' that elevates it.

Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2021, 06:12:58 AM »
Doesn't it just thrill you? I wonder how they ever come up with them, and how they know it'll work, stuff like that.

It really does thrill me. The honing, the brevity, the specific choice of words in order to avoid repetition or a potential verbal slip up is truly fascinating. Much in the same way a cryptic crossword clue, every word is there for a reason.

In recent years, my favourite jokes have all come from Norm MacDonald. He and his writing team on Norm MacDonald Live are some of the world's greatest joke writers.

There are a whole load of examples here - https://normjokes.com,  but one that I often come back to is "My new suit makes me look slimmer. But it did not fool that flight of stairs that collapsed under my astonishing new girth". Some of it's in the delivery, some is made funnier by being familiar with Norm and his Ol' Chunk Of Coal persona. But "astonishing new girth" is an excellent punchline which gets me every time.

Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #15 on: September 07, 2021, 01:54:12 PM »
my favourite jokes have all come from Norm MacDonald

“That’s where I found him, making a living underneath the Queensboro Bridge, jerking off punks for fifteen dollars a man.”

The word punks just elevates it somehow.

Whug Baspin

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Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #16 on: September 07, 2021, 02:08:27 PM »
Norm himself paid tribute to a great joke from Garry Shanding saying he had no idea how he had constructed it. It's wonderfully compact, and i think it fits the thread
Quote
I'm dating Miss Georgia. Alright it's the former Miss Georgia, ok its George Foreman

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Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #17 on: September 07, 2021, 02:25:34 PM »
That Shandling joke is great, just perfectly ridiculous.

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Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #18 on: September 07, 2021, 11:10:39 PM »
In recent years, my favourite jokes have all come from Norm MacDonald. He and his writing team on Norm MacDonald Live are some of the world's greatest joke writers.

His Jiro Dreams of Sushi joke is perfect.


Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #19 on: September 07, 2021, 11:15:08 PM »
"I feel bad for the homeless guy, but I feel really bad the homeless guy's dog, because he must be thinking 'Man, this is the longest walk ever"

-Norm Macdonald

Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #20 on: September 08, 2021, 12:21:01 AM »
The word punks just elevates it somehow.

Absolutely. Again, it taps into Norm's vintage persona. You could imagine some comic from the 50s, like a Bob Hope type, telling this joke to his friends.

His Jiro Dreams of Sushi joke is perfect.

It's always delightful whenever a guest comedian loses it while reading one of the jokes. Nick Swardson was also on the receiving end of one of Norm's 9/11 jokes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkSMSbFV_q0.

 

Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #21 on: September 08, 2021, 09:01:14 AM »
My favourite Norm joke is the Professor of Logic one. Lovely long rambling setup and a short sharp punchline.

Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #22 on: September 08, 2021, 09:57:19 AM »
I love Simon Munnery's short punchy jokes.

"I could've been a plumber. Like my father. He could've been a plumber too."

"I've got 2 girls. 8 and 11. Dunno why I called them that".

If an audience aren't laughing: "Have you been an audience for long?"

I think it was on RHLSTP he said he spent ages and ages honing down a joke cos it was never working and eventually it only worked when it was just four words:

"Clowns divorce. Custardy battle".

(I'm probably getting the wording wrong for these)

amateur

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Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #23 on: September 08, 2021, 10:07:07 AM »
I know (from an interview with his ex which is on YouTube somewhere) that often Mitch Hedburg would spent months on crafting, experimenting and distilling something funny into the perfect bit: I often think of his bit about dreams; "I hate dreaming because I just wanna sleep. Im fast asleep, and next thing you know, I have to build a go-cart with my ex-landlord.''
a. it's true and b, the choices he's made for two elements,  'building a go-cart'  with my 'ex-landlord', lots of things could 
work there, but I can't think of anything better. Perfect choices for maximum laughs.
He has other jokes too.

You can't really beat Mitch for these things.

Quote from: Mitch Hedburg
Tennis is depressing because no matter how good I get, I'll never be as good as a wall.

I played a wall once, they're fucking relentless.

BeardFaceMan

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Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #24 on: September 08, 2021, 10:26:17 AM »

There are a whole load of examples here - https://normjokes.com,  but one that I often come back to is "My new suit makes me look slimmer. But it did not fool that flight of stairs that collapsed under my astonishing new girth". Some of it's in the delivery, some is made funnier by being familiar with Norm and his Ol' Chunk Of Coal persona. But "astonishing new girth" is an excellent punchline which gets me every time.

That joke loses points from me for having the word 'new' in the set-up and the punchline. "Astonishing new girth" is indeed a nice turn of phrase but I'd say that the 'new' in the punchline is unnecessary and that the overall joke would be better with "astonishing girth".

Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #25 on: September 08, 2021, 10:51:33 AM »
You can't really beat Mitch for these things.


I used to take drugs. I still do but I used to,....too

An escalator can never really be broken. It just becomes stairs

I don't have a girlfriend. I just know a woman who would get really mad if she heard me say that

Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #26 on: September 08, 2021, 12:12:54 PM »
In recent years, my favourite jokes have all come from Norm MacDonald. He and his writing team on Norm MacDonald Live are some of the world's greatest joke writers.

All of Norm's fat jokes were amazing. I love Norm, but the absolute peak for me was Fat Norm.

My all time favourite joke is possibly the Jet Blue Airlines joke from Norm Macdonald Live. It's so stupid that it's funny, but it also probably wouldn't be funny if anyone other than Norm told it, and told it in that setting. Half the joke is that he's getting away with saying stuff that's so ridiculous and making other people say it - whether it's ridiculous because it's offensive, or not even a joke "it's more of a comment", or because it's just not funny, or because it's ridiculous for him to pretend he doesn't understand the jokes or know who wrote them.

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Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #27 on: September 08, 2021, 03:47:56 PM »
Thanks to this thread I'm now going through compilation of Norm jokes on his podcast. I have issues with his obsession with gay jokes and general heteronormative ways, but sometimes I can't resist:

"When you're single and trying to attract a partner, it's important to project the qualities that you desire, which I understand - but boy oh boy, have I had to suck a lot of dick lately."

The twisted logic of it is perfect. He is the king of finishing a joke. It's not so much the punchline in its entirety but the final turn of phrase that makes it, as mentioned by others above.

Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #28 on: September 08, 2021, 04:17:37 PM »
A Norm Macdonald joke from the fake news on Weekend Update:

In Massachusetts, the 119-acre Dunn Pond State Park has the state’s first nature trail designed for the handicapped. Along the trail, you will find a rich variety of birds, lizards and insects — all of them handicapped.

Re: The sheer brilliance of a well crafted joke
« Reply #29 on: September 08, 2021, 04:17:50 PM »
What I've realised I love more than anything in jokes is the surreal delivered as if it were normal. Something that I think often distinguishes a funny joke from an unfunny one, especially with 'proper' jokes, is whether or not it creates an image in your mind. It's the reason puns are frequently unfunny because there's often nothing else to them apart from the bland wordplay.

A line I think about a lot is Michael Redmond's "You ever notice how nervous people get when you follow them up a ladder?". It's partly the faux observational nature of it with the rhetorical question, and of course the "when" instead of 'if' augments it. But it also creates the image in your mind in tandem. The surreal delivered as normal means it's a joke where the setup and the punchline essentially coalesce.

I can relate that last part back to Norm Macdonald, because he has a theory that the perfect joke is one where the setup and the punchline are close to exactly the same. He gives an example of a joke he did on SNL, which was something along the lines of "Julia Roberts has announced she's getting a divorce from Lyle Lovett. She says the key reason is that she's Julia Roberts and he's Lyle Lovett."

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