Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Today's Comedy Motiff - The use of Logic in Humor

I have been meaning to write a piece on the various tools that comedians use to create humor. Contrary to popular belief, comedy is very difficult and has it's own language and motiiffs that the great comedians use. Today I will touch on the use of logic to create humor.

I will not get very technical here and describe the nuances of deductive and inductive reasoning. I will simplify things for the sake of brevity and enjoyment. Suffice to say that for practical purposes, much of our conclusions about every day things start out as logical problems. If X then Y. X then Y. Or valid logic can be shortened and still remain valid. If X then Y then Z. Therefore if X then Z. Let's use an example. If I eat alot (X), I will get huge (y) then I won't be able to run. (z). Therefore If I eat alot, I wont be able to run.

The thing that logic does is it allows us to anticipate what a given outcome is going to be and our brain is expecting a certain answer to the "If/then" analysis. The comedian can then use logic for comedic relief. Let me show you how.

Here, the reasoning is either wrong or far fetched. Let me give you an example. The great Mitch Hedgberg was a genius in employing this technique. This is his joke:

I don't get the regular AIDS test anymore. I get the roundabout Aids test. I ask my friend Brian,"Do you know anyone who has AIDS. He says no. I say Cool Cuz you know me." The humor lies in the fact that his reasoning is flawed.

Stven Wright is also a master of this technique. He does is with a twist. He states facts that contradict themselves by definition. His joke: "Im writing an unathorized auto-biography." The humor lies in the innate contradiction of the term. It can't be unauthorized if he wrote it!

Sometimes the humor is in being too literal and drawing a false conclusion based on that as in the joke by Jay London who said, " my whole family is lactose intolerant and when we take pictures, we can't say cheese."

I hope this posting did not bore you guys. I wanted you to notice and appreciate the use of logic and how it can be applied to comedy. It's late so logically, I'm going to bed.


  1. Haha! They were all great - for some reason I loved the we can't say cheese one - even though it's so silly! I just cracked-up laughing.

  2. LMAO on the lactose intolerant family!!!

    I wonder what technique I use. Now I'm confused.

  3. I didn't understand this blog but I found it quite humourous......and since I am sqeamish about blood, saying it was bloody funny just won't do.

  4. Israel, I really enjoyed and appreciated this. I love comedy but never stopped to think of the logic and the various methods that are employed. From now on when I watch standup or read your jokes I'll be able to i.d. the techniques. Thanks!

  5. ha! this was great insight and information. you're funny even when you're smart. ;)

  6. Fabulous post Israel! Great information and on point examples. Humor is a skill as well as a talent. You have both.
    I hope you'll do more of this kind of post in the future! I laughed and I learned. What could be better?!

  7. I think I laughed to the point where I started sweating! Shit, if your humor is a workout for me, I need to you be on three times a week! I'm tired of my ass touching the middle of my back!

  8. That was awesome! It's funny, I guess I inherently know these things, but when you put it that way, I realize there are a lot of variations. I most love comedians that show the absurdity of our way of doing and saying things. I couldn't help thinking when Charlie Sheen said "you can't process me with a normal mind." Which to me begs the natural conclusion "you need to have an abnormal mind."

  9. I've never seen comedy broken down to a science. From now on, you're Professor Iz! Good post!

  10. Hahaha I love the logic kind of humor.