The Ever Changing Face of Comedy
What is the key to understanding the evolution of humor, or for that matter the evolution of memes in general? When you think about it, there are several things you need to understand.
First, humor has a very specific meaning. When someone says they found a funny video online, or saw an amusing GIF, they have very specific meanings attached to them. This makes it so that the term ‘comedy’ is so much more than “informal”a joke”.
Second, humor has a very specific physical appearance. No matter how funny or ridiculous something is, no matter how inappropriate,people are still interested in seeing what is happening on the physical medium. One example of this is the comedic catchphrase that you see on late night TV. They might say something like “I can’t even”Even if I could…” this may sound funny, but in reality they are trying to be funny!
Third, you can see this in the history of viral memes. The first ones were funny because of the subject matter, but that is not what they are known for today.
A meme can spread from person to person, though this is impossible to do with a joke. Even if you are watching a comedy skit online, and someone says “Here’s your punchline”, that is not a joke – but a direct request for them to see the joke (and they will do so).
The evolution of humor is a chain of events starting with the first joke, to the first joke being relayed through the Internet, to the first joke being relayed through the original movie of the same name, to the first joke to be made into a meme by someone else, to the first joke to be made into a meme by someone else who then shared the joke with someone else, to the first joke to be a meme and be passed on to the next person in line, etc. The idea of humor itself is evolving constantly.
- It is funny because it is amusing, but why is it always jokes? That is another question for another time, but the point here is that people find jokes funnier when they are actually funny, and this is the same way that they find some memes funny, when they are funny. There is no point in trying to be funny if it isn’t really meant to be – people are always looking for something that is not literal, and you have to keep that in mind when you make a joke or a meme.
- However, when you start messing around with memes and the evolution of comedy, you have to remember that there is a limit to this. You can easily get yourself into some serious trouble by passing on a joke that is considered to be too long. If you go over the limit of how many times a joke can be said before it becomes stale, you can end up getting in some trouble – especially if you pass on a joke that is very common.
- That is why, as with any other kind of entertainment, it is vital that you take the proper care in picking the funny joke or meme. The more common a joke is, the easier it is to predict whether or not it will get passed on and picked up. If you pass on a joke that people already know, or you don’t pick one up yourself, you are not only hurting yourself by passing it off as a joke, but you are also hurting people who think that you have passed the joke on.
If you want to be a funny guy, then you have to learn how to make jokes funny. If you don’t want to hurt other people, you have to be very careful with how you handle jokes that are passed around.
It is very important that when you start sharing jokes that are too long that you make sure that they are funny, so that people can see that they are funny, and not pass it on, in the hope that you will get away with it. If you do not find a joke that is funny, the only thing that you can do is laugh about it, and keep the joke or meme around.
Memes are Now, but Never Forever
Memes and the Evolution of Comedy, a new book by historian Henry Jenkins, is intended to offer a “real-life” view of how the evolution of comedy has taken place over the past several decades. In this world of seemingly infinite choices, it’s difficult to know where to begin, but Jenkin manages to do just that in his excellent book.
In this day and age, so many jokes are getting old and stale, while others are being born anew every week, so it’s a bit like going through a time machine. In this book, Jenkins uses the concept of comedy and what it entails to describe a number of prominent and current occurrences, from the sharing of outrageous pictures, to other funny illustrations.
Memes and the Evolution of Comedy start with funny books, before delving into the internet and to movies as they create an ever-changing image. In particular, Jenkins takes us on a tour of famous jokes that were either born out of new media, or that just jumped out at people. Some of these jokes are actually quite hilarious, and in some cases they’re less than a decade old.
Even more fun is discovering the lineage of certain modern humor that is actually, at its core, a combination of two or more funny ideas. There’s a bit of this going on with some of the adaptations of the old jokes from movies and comic books, and the book does a great job of tracing these connections.
Since so much of comedy is reliant on getting your audience to laugh, getting them to realize what’s going on is half the battle. While Jenkins doesn’t always have this in his favor, he does offer an excellent insight into how he believes the evolution of comedy has played out.
You can expect a lot of discussion about what’s funny in particular, which is something that’s near and dear to most of us. The full title of the book should also give you a hint of the subject matter, as well as the topic of his other works.
It’s certainly a fun read, especially if you enjoy comedy and have a lot of time on your hands. I’d certainly recommend this to any reader who likes to dip their toes into the world of comedy.