Humor

This project has been extremely fun to complete. I read Slaughterhouse Five and the Rhinoceros, to study satire. Then, I studied the standup comedy routines of Chelsea Peretti and John Mulaney. I crafted my own standup comedy routine and performed it in front of the class.

Humorist Analysis Project and Project Proposal

For the Humor Project, I decided to study John Mulaney and Chelsea Peretti. I watched a slightly shorter version of John Mulaney’s “New in Town.” I also watched assorted clips of some of Chelsea Peretti’s stand up routines. John Mulaney is a very popular comedian right now, but Chelsea Peretti is a bit less popular. She starred as Gina Linetti on Brooklyn Nine Nine, wrote a couple episodes of Parks and Rec, and is married to Jordan Peele of Key and Peele. She definitely deserves more recognition and attention. They are both very funny and have very similar techniques. Both Chelsea Peretti and John Mulaney use comedic voices to emphasize certain things. Both use lots of anecdotal humor and slightly self-deprecating humor. Both of the clips I watched of them involved reacting to mean things other people say with humor.

I watched more by John Mulaney, and I specifically liked how he incorporated movement into what he was saying. Mostly, he stood still or paced back in forth on the stage. I liked how he would start walking in a certain direction if the story involved him walking in that direction. It helped to pull us into the story, and it was funny. He would also turn his head to the side to note that he was making commentary on the event instead of actually saying what he said in whatever anecdote he was explaining. He made funny expressions at times to show us how he felt, and I felt like that was effective. I liked how he would use anti-climatic endings (“and then I woke up at home”). This really added and acted as sort of an under-exaggeration of what happened. In terms of humor techniques from the comedy toolbox, he mainly used situational humor, anecdotes, unspoken truth, hyperbole, and exaggeration. His style also consists of exaggerating certain phrases through enunciation and yelling. He has a funny voice (it has been described as like a radio host, a game show host, or a cartoon character) so it was funny to hear how he changed it.

Chelsea Peretti also uses similar techniques, while also adding some slightly absurdist humor. She mostly sticks to anecdotal and situational comedy. My favorite bit that she did was about small talk. Hatred of small talk is something that everyone can relate to, and it started out as basic situational comedy. However, halfway through explaining how much she hates it, she just started screaming. It was very unexpected, but she just jumped right back in with “that’s how I feel when I have to make small talk.” It was very unexpected, but really funny. She also used stress-diffusing humor to cope with the situations she was explaining. A large part of what she jokes about are rude interactions with others. She is often bullied for her features, but she is able to work that into her comedy into a way that is a bit self-deprecating, but is mostly confidence building. She is able to show how she has grown in her confidence, while still explaining how she used to feel. She uses a lot of blue humor when describing her roommates, which is gross, but she doesn’t over do it. She has a very pessimistic outlook, but doesn’t make you feel worse after listening.

I appreciated how both of these comedians used anecdotes and the way the told them. They explained both relatable and outlandish events, but told the stories in a way we could relate to. I would like to use anti-climatic endings and exaggerated voices like John Mulaney. I think I could use this when I talk about the people on my bus by imitating voices and enunciating to really draw attention to all of the weird things going on. For vague and anti-climatic endings, I could work this in when I talk about the sketchy bus stops. I could try to incorporate movement in a similar way, such as acting along with the story I’m telling and using action to note when I am using commentary vs. when I am explaining what really happened. I like how his voice really adds to the performance, but I don’t know how well I could achieve something like this. He has a very distinct voice, and I don’t really, so I don’t think I could try to emulate that part of his performance.

Chelsea Peretti did a very good job of taking unexpected turns like just randomly yelling, and so I would like to incorporate that into my script. I appreciated how she explained awkward moments, so I’m going to try to emulate the way she does that in my performance. She also has a slightly awkward way of presenting, which I feel could really work for me. She’s clearly confident, but she knows that what she’s saying is a bit uncomfortable and has a lot of fun, while still being a bit weird. I would like to give off a similar vibe in my performance.

Overall, I feel like both are strong sources of inspiration for my script and how I plan on delivering it. I appreciate how both have a very specific personality and way of acting on stage, and I would like to show that through my performance. Both were incredibly confident, and so to achieve a similar level of confidence, I will practice my performance a lot. I will try to have it all memorized so I can perform it as effortlessly as Mulaney or Peretti. Chelsea Peretti gives me a lot of hope for my presentation, because her awkwardness at times added to what she was saying and made us feel awkward too. I know that if I am awkward at times during my performance, it could actually add to my performance and make it funnier for everyone else.

Works cited:

Mulaney, John. “John Mulaney: New in Town.” 2012.

Peretti, Chelsea, director. Chelsea Peretti Standup – New Faces 2008 (Just for Laughs Montreal). YouTube, YouTube, 17 May 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxCSYlQ2HI4.

Peretti, Chelsea, director. Chelsea Peretti- Small Talk. YouTube, YouTube, 25 Mar. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jzv6c-bGUB4.

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Part 2 – Description of Proposed Project

Provide a detailed description of your project, including what you intend to develop (the form of humor, topic/content, techniques you plan to use, how many people you’ll need to deliver the performance, visual aids/props, time, and any other details that will help to give me a picture of what you’re performing. This section is worth 25% of the grade for this assignment.  

  1. Are you working with a group? Yes* or No

*If Yes, list your group members here (when I meet with you, I will also need a clear picture of who is doing what):

No.

  1. Which form of humor are you planning to develop? (See menu.) Will it be a LIVE or pre-recorded performance?

I would like to do a live stand-up comedy routine. It will follow a narrative and will basically consists of stories.

  1. What is the subject (or, in the case of satire, the target)? Why did your choose this subject?

I will be telling stories about being a girl with ADHD as well as just being a girl in general. I am choosing this as my topic because girls with ADHD aren’t really represented all that much, and it’s been interesting to grow up and have to figure it out without anyone to look up to. For just being a girl in general, it is relatable and many girls have very similar shared experiences.

  1. Which comedic tools/techniques do you plan to use, and why? (List at least 3 main ones):

I will use anecdotes to explain stories, defusing anxiety to explain how I react to stuff, and situational humor mainly just because that’s what I find funny and it’s very relatable.

  1. Why do you think this is the right humor project for you? (If you have a group, can you assure me that everyone is invested in this idea and you won’t have trouble getting everyone to contribute meaningfully?) What makes you excited about this idea? What are some potential pitfalls you wish to avoid?

I am excited to share my experiences in a funny and meaningful way. I would like to work on being more confident in front of others. I’m very worried that if I go up to perform on my own, I will get very nervous and the final product won’t be as funny.

  1. If you get approval today, what’s your next step?

Writing the script.

Script for my performance:

So I have ADHD. You guys are probably like “umm yeah you mention this about three times per minute. We know.” I learned when I was six. A school psychologist told me. And then I Completely forgot it. In my head, it was just the mii channel theme playing with just a butterfly flying over a field. Then in fourth grade, my extremely delayed reaction kicked in. I was in the car with my mom so I turned to her and I said “mom, how come during class I just want to think about what it would be like to live on the moon instead of what we’re actually talking about?” She just looked at me.“Why’d you think you were taking adderall? Fun?” So skipping all the way to eighth grade. After eight years or so in the public school system, I don’t know if that’s accurate because I spent most of my math classes as a kid reading under my desk and thinking about space, I decided to venture elsewhere. Valley Christian Middle School. Valley Christian was a great school for kids with ADHD. The only downside was that all of the kids were horrible. I didn’t really have many friends in middle school, you guys are probably like “oh honey, we can tell.” But that’s okay! I had to take a bus to get home, and I had a little squad there. We were like the diverse cast of a feel-good family sitcom that would get cancelled after one season. My stop was in a parking lot behind a run down movie theater, but every wednesday I would go to the Campbell stop, which was at a safeway in the same part of Campbell where I saw a dead body. My bus driver was named Lupe. Every day she would stop me before I left the bus and say “Brooke, it is your destiny. You will marry someone on this bus.” To which I responded, “cool” and just bolted off the bus. The other kids on the bus were Kezzia, a ten year old who had seen every tv show ever, a girl named Jane who was older than all of us and took it upon herself to be our cool, emotionally distant aunt. Her house had burned down in mysterious circumstances and she also knew a suspicious amount about famous murder cases. Then there was Sam who would fall in love with any girl who spoke to him. Any. I went to Jamba Juice with him and the cashier was this cute 17 year old and she was like “order for Sam?” and he was like [swoons, passes out]. Then there were the kids at the back of the bus. These kids were UGH! High schoolers are the most bearable when they know they aren’t cool. Like I know that in ten years, I will be super ashamed of who I am right now. These kids believed they were at their peak. They were actually the first people who cat called me. It was a terrible experience to be trapped in a school bus with them, but after that something shifted in me. My afternoons would no longer be spent at sketchy bus stops hiding from people. I needed to be bold, brave. I needed to strike fear into the hearts of men. But first let’s set the scene. I was about five feet tall, and it was 2015 so everyone was completely frying their hair every morning like “I must remove anything that could hint at a wave in my hair” but I didn’t own a straightener and I wanted to look like other kids so I would brush my hair until I looked like a blend between Hagrid and someone named Karen who wants to know if there’s a manager she can speak to. I was old enough to have boobs, but not old enough to know that one of those built in shelf bra tank tops from justice wouldn’t cut it. I wore earrings with little tabby cats on them every day and flare jeans. These weren’t “wow are those vintage? She’s SOOOO quirky” kind of flare jeans. I literally looked like a horse girl. So with that extremely embarrassing description of me in mind, I would get off the bus in the morning and I would listen to the avengers theme so I would feel very empowered and stuff as I walked into school. And I would turn to the bus driver and say “THANK YOU! HAVE A NICE DAY”. I would walk around looking like that Arthur meme while also scowling. But I also just kinda figured out how to be more confident. And now I’m doing this.

My performance! It was a bit nerve-wracking, but I did it!