An incredibly fertile area to mine your own humor is in your reactions to sales emails. They show up everyday and it can be rather frustrating. If you’re like me, you start deleting the email titles before you ever open the actual message. However, quite often one word in that title can change your whole attitude.
Two days ago, it was the word “seniors”. I have a few years left before I can actually be described as a senior, but I am already prepping. I’m getting ready. I’m a prepper, I know other comics who are preppers … wouldn’t you like to be a prepper too?
The ad was for a chapped foot mask. Apparently, if you have chapped feet, you can hide them like a wrestler’s face. I didn’t even know that feet could chap. I just thought they were dry and cracked and nasty looking, like a sun-baked bagel. I’ve seen those and, uh, no thank you.
My reaction was quick and swift, which mean the same thing. I even blurted it out loud. “When is the last time you’ve seen a bona fide foot-chapper?” The ridiculousness of that statement is not lost on me. But I let it go and just went with it. I wasn’t finished.
SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF
There is a phenomenon (of sorts) in comedy called the ‘suspension of disbelief’. Basically, it can be summed up like this: An audience will go along with a premise or setup, even when they don’t fully believe it or agree, for the sake of allowing the comedian to reach his/her punchline and invoke the anticipated laughter. The main reason for this is that they want the comedian to succeed.
There is an old saying in stand up comedy … If the audience isn’t laughing, you’re a speaker. They don’t call the venue a “speaker club” or even a “speak easy”. They are called comedy clubs for a reason. An audience expects to laugh. And who am I to keep them from it?
When a comedian works on existing or even new material, the suspension of disbelief allows the comic a lot more leeway. It’s akin to an improv actor who will constantly yet silently ask, “Yes, And …”. Just go with it, without censor. You can censor later, depending on who you are talking to.
The lesson is to continue to dig deeper until the real “funny” is found. It might be a simple and/or immediate reaction, a one-liner, a comparison, a simile or even an anecdote used to convey your truth (and cause laughter). Those are just a few examples of how punchlines are created. There really is no wrong answer.
The bottom line is, if it’s funny, leave it in. And remember, what is funny to you may not always be funny to someone else. That’s perfectly ok. Again, it’s about YOUR truth and what YOU find funny.
A PERFECT EXAMPLE - "AMISH UBER"
While writing this article, my sister just sent me a link to an interesting article. A man up north has created what he calls Amish Uber. He has a horse and buggy and gives rides to people who need to get somewhere in their small town. Now, being an Uber drive I know that Uber charges passengers based on two things: Time and Distance. So, upon reading the article … my initial reaction? “The first 2-mile ride was rather expensive. $3 for mileage and $109 for the half-day trip.” Boom! No formula, just my reaction.
Why is that so funny to me? Well, for one … I know it’s written comically correct. (Punch-word: “Half-day trip” is at the end, for example). And two, I am emotionally passionate about the subject because I drive for Uber too. So my reaction comes from my version of the “truth”. As drivers, we all want to get paid more for our time and mileage.
OPENING JOKE CLOSER
Ok, back to the original premise. A chapped foot mask is ridiculous. Prepper opening punch, when’s the last time you saw a foot-chapper, and then, “Besides that, it just begs the question … “How much foot, could a foot-chap chap, if a foot-chap, could chap feet?” Completely ridiculous? Check. Funny to me? Check. Am I now bothered in the least about getting that email? Not on your life. My work here is done.