Nov 202014

Humor Studies (Sage Books)

What’s so funny? That is one of many questions being asked about humor in general, as a subject of study. Salvatore Attardothe dean of humanities, social sciences, and arts at Texas A&M-Commerce, has some insight. He says that humor as a subject of study has “become respectable”. Apparently there has been an uprising of research on the subject, which is actually kind of refreshing to hear. So Attardo just went ahead and published a hardback two-volume seven pound shipping weight reference set. Yes seven pounds. The description of the book on the Sage website is: “The Encyclopedia of Humor Studies explores the concept of humor in history and modern society in the United States and internationally. This work’s scope encompasses the humor of children, adults, and even nonhuman primates throughout the ages, from crude jokes and simple slapstick to sophisticated word play and ironic parody and satire.” Wow even non human primates? I’m interested. Too bad it’s $350.00. So unless you’re teaching a class you might not be able to get that one, which brings us to our next authors, who happen to disagree with Attardo’s theory that he and Victor Raskin agreed on in 1991. It’s called the General Theory of Verbal Humor and can be found in this long list of humor theories.

Humor code

The Humor Code (Amazon)

There are some other educational juggernauts that have notable input about humor, and none of these people are not comedians. Maybe we should get some comedians in on this discussioin? Oddly enough Joel Warner (an accomplished writer and Denver local) and Dr. Peter McGraw, a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder are two of them. These fun fellas co-wrote the book “The Humor Code”, in which they describe how they traveled the world spanning 5 different continents looking for answers about what makes things funny. After all said and done McGraw had developed the “Benign Violation Theory”, which can also be found in the list. This theory seemingly explains the most aspects of comedy in one theory whereas others have been criticized for only explaining a few or one aspect of comedy. This book would be a little easier to get ahold of seeing as it’s only $17, and you can get it on your Kindle as well.  Here’s Peter McGraw talking about what makes things funny in Boulder, CO at TEDx, it’s quite interesting.




There is quite a bit more to talk about when it comes to trying to learn about what makes things funny, this article is to merely let you know that the conversation is happening, and that there are plenty of books out there to read if you’re interested in the subject. Maybe it can be that last course you are trying to find to study in college?

Anywho, the Article I saw that sparked my curiosity is by Shane Snow of “The New Yorker” entitled “A Quest to Understand What Makes Things Funny”. This article is a nice read and includes a quick buttoned up version of the evolution of humor theory, it’s a good place to start.

Until next time,

-KJ Willy

Post Script

Jello Man and Jello Llama

Jerry, Jim, and Jay

 Posted by at 6:00 am
Nov 132014

Jerry Seinfeld,  Jim Carrey,  and Jay Leno have something in common to be proud of, besides being funny and beloved by the world. All three of these guys debuted their act on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson“. Johnny Carson was where it all started. The sit down and talk with a celebrity era that hasn’t ended, and might never end. If you’re not familiar here’s a quick catchup:

Jerry Seinfeld appeared on Carson 7 years before the hit show “Seinfeld” hit america. Which, by the way, TV Guide calls “The Greatest Television Program of All Time”. If you watch one episode, it’s hard to not watch the other 179, that’s right, 9 years of episodes. Anywho, on 4/06/82 seeming a little nervous Jerry debuted but recovered in the end:

Jim Carrey’s first American TV Appearance was also on Carson, and he chose to do an impression. It was quite the lengthy impression of Elvis Presley. It didn’t seem like everyone in the audience enjoyed it but never the less it took a lot of  spunk and moxie to get up there and do it, that’s for damn sure!


Jay Leno. Oh Jay. Jay, Jay, Jay. The former host of “The Tonight Show” has his comedy debut on “The Tonight Show”. That is pretty sweet. Do you think Carson was thinking “This guy is going to be my successor”? I doubt that very much, but Leno showed us. He took over in 1992 and drove it home until 2009! Here we witness his late night christening in 1977.

-KJ Willy

The Evolution of Jimmy Fallon

 Posted by at 7:00 am
Nov 062014
The Evolution of Jimmy Fallon

James Thomas Fallon, rollicking son of a Vietnam veteran, went from scraping gum off the floor, to bedroom impersonations and skits, to being in almost every American household five nights a week. Fallon has been gracing the big screen since 1998, when he started his television career at Saturday Night Live. Since then, it’s been non-stop, … (read more)

Joe Rogan – Dude of Balance

 Posted by at 7:00 am
Oct 302014
Joe Rogan - Dude of Balance

If you have not heard of the triple threat guy Joe Rogan, you are probably not a fan of either of these three things: standup comedy, great podcasts, or the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Oh and also Fear Factor, the classic series that aired on NBC that Joe hosted between 2001 and 2006. Joe is prolific and … (read more)

Wes Anderson’s Subtle Style

 Posted by at 1:58 pm
Oct 232014
Wes Anderson's Subtle Style

Wes Anderson knows something that we do not. At least that’s how it feels when you sit down and begin to watch “The Grand Budapest Hotel” in the comfort of your own home, after making a cup of hot tea. There is just this, sort of underlying feeling of wisdom that seems to emanate from … (read more)

Oct 022014
From Denver Standup to the Afterlife, Comedy Is All Around Us

Somewhere in the afterlife, they’re preparing for a comedy showcase. It must be so, after all, because Joan Rivers, who just a month ago shared a tribute to beloved comic Robin Williams, recently passed away. Who will fill the void left by Rivers, Williams and other comics who’ve crossed over? Here’s whom to turn to when … (read more)