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July 12, 2024, 06:32:46 PM

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Joel Morris' Be Funny or Die: How Comedy Works and Why It Matters

Started by lauraxsynthesis, March 14, 2024, 05:08:16 PM

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Last week Joel Morris' big ambitious book about comedy came out in hardback and audio - I'm listening to the audiobook narrated by the author. Folks might know Morris from the Rule of Three or Comfort Blanket podcasts or his comedy writing (Charlie Brooker, Philomena Cunk, other stuff) - he seems rather prolific.

I'm about halfway through and enjoying the book loads and getting my brain slightly rewired. Towards the beginning of the book he gave the following descriptions of a couple of comedy sketches and I recognised them straightaway as sketches I love and I felt I was in safe hands:

a 1950s greaser in a transport cafe singing 'Mr Boombastic' on a Kirby wire, a drag Viking miming extremely tight raspberries


He's an odd one. I'm sure I quite like him, and certainly like a lot of his work... but I listened to the recent Comfort Blanket episode about Ben Stokes's Ashes, and got a bit weary of his 'and this is how drama works' and 'sport's a bit like improv', and like - I am absolutely certain he knows his onions, but... I dunno. Like dissecting a frog, as the saying goes.

Is the book funny, is what I'd like to know.

His wife used to post on Bobpitch, of course. Not sure if he was ever on there.

Magnum Valentino

I loved Rule of Three and have been looking forward to this for ages, but somehow missed that it had been released. Now that I see I can just listen to it with my existing Spotify account it feels anticlimactic somehow.

Think I'll buy the book so it feels "real"!

Does anyone know why they stopped doing Rule of Three?  I know the production company Great Big Owl folded, but the fact that he then set up the Comfort Blanket podcast on his own which has a similar premise, I just wondered why he never seems to do anything with Jason Hazeley any more.  Did they have a falling out or something?


No idea - obviously he was one of the directors of GBO.

When GBO folded, Mrs Morris (aka Julia Raeside) was in the middle of a Strictly Come Dancing podcast (The Curse of Strictly) which also stopped mid-run, and was replaced for the  next season with a differently titled and not as good podcast on the Cheese and Pickle imprint.

I notice from Companies House that Mole Valley Valves Ltd has also dissolved.


Quote from: Brundle-Fly on March 15, 2024, 02:13:11 PMThey suffered quite a blow during lockdown.


Yeah, that was the reason they folded the company, iirc.

Joel, if you're reading this, I know an office rental company that only does rolling one-month contracts if you need an office again.

New series of Brian & Roger coming soon on Cheese and Pickle

mr. logic

Best British comedy in years, if not decades. I'm happy to pay but hope they don't make it a right faff on.

The Mollusk

Bumping to say me and a couple other CaBbers caught Joel doing a talk about this with Captain Ben Willbond last night in Walthamstow and I really enjoyed it. A lot of fundamental stuff but expanded into very interesting dynamics and patterns, including comparing comedy to music and pondering why until now no one's attempted to deeply analyse the mechanics of (non-standup) comedy in depth like this before. It was very relatable and insightful stuff.

It was also great to see such a good turnout of not just non-males (the Trades Hall is very LGBTQ+ positive and hosts the local Women's Institute there too) but also young people. I sort of assumed the kids were there to fawn over Willbond (and his queue to meet fans after was considerably larger than Morris's, lol) but they posed a few solid questions at the closing Q&A, and Joel went into a fair bit of detail about why AI is nothing to be concerned about and how social media platforms and modern technology make it so easy for aspiring young comics to get themselves noticed. Very inspiring.


Sorry to have missed that last night. I've finished the book now and found it fascinating. The frog dissection analogy didn't apply at all for me - I still find stuff funny even knowing that we apparently laugh to demonstrate that we feel safe and others can too etc. It was perfect that Morris ended the book by applying that bit of anthropology to the claims of bigots that comedy has to be offensive to be funny.


Did anybody else buy the physical copy and, if so, was the print fucked for the first 20 pages or so?


Joel also good value on Herring's book podcast with the pair taking an extended deviation into debunking the supposed cancelling of comics. Stuck out though that in rattling through his career, though he'd occasionally slip into 'we', Hazeley's name didn't get a mention. Most odd.

Auntie Beryl

Quote from: bobloblaw on June 13, 2024, 11:53:12 AMJoel also good value on Herring's book podcast with the pair taking an extended deviation into debunking the supposed cancelling of comics. Stuck out though that in rattling through his career, though he'd occasionally slip into 'we', Hazeley's name didn't get a mention. Most odd.

Hazeley's just finished a tour with Beth Gibbons. They do seem to have moved in different directions of late.


I get the feeling they fell out at some point. I met him a few years ago and he mentioned his "ex-writing partner" but not by name.

I guess they parted ways when Great Big Owl went south, which was related to their office's contract during lockdowns where they couldn't use it under lockdown rules but were still paying full whack for another year.