What is the Humor Project?
The Humor Project is a unit that encourages us to explore different genres of comedy and then to produce a skit, commercial ad, or stand-up routine to showcase the skills we’ve learned. We did a lot of improv practice exercises during class to help inspire us to think of new subject topics in comedy. For my project, I create a fake drug ad with my partner Tara Popovic. Originally, I was very stressed about coming up with an idea for this project and making sure that it was “humorous” enough. However, as the process continued through script writing and filming, I found that it was actually a lot of fun and I was able to express myself in a new way.
For part of our Humor Proposal, we were supposed to choose and analyze two humorists. I chose Trevor Noah, the host of The Daily Show, and Hasan Minhaj, host of the Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj on Netflix.
When comparing these two comedians, something important to note is the fact that they used to work together. That already tells us a little bit about their style of comedy and the subjects that they focus on. Hasan Minhaj is pushing the boundaries of comedy. His Netflix show, “Patriot Act”, expands on the idea topical comedy, discussing politics and international news. However, what makes him stand out from others who do the same thing, such as Trevor Noah, is that he talks about issues that no one else really addresses or wants to address. He told the New York Times, as he was developing the “Patriot Act”, he had “…been thinking about applying his comedic style to news stories that weren’t necessarily at the center of everyone’s attention, in a format that didn’t look like another cookie-cutter late-night comedy.” (Itzkoff) Another way he breaks the “cookie-cutter late-night comedy” model is by not sitting behind a desk and wearing a suit, spending 20-25 minutes on a single topic and with graphics and data surrounding him on the stage. Usually, comedians have supporting visuals above their shoulder where they sit but Minhaj wanted to do something different. He was worried that he “was going to be in a suit, behind a desk, in front of a fake city skyline, and people would be, like, ‘Oh, it’s Indian John Oliver.’” (Itzkoff)
Trevor Noah conforms to the typical late-night host model, sitting behind a desk, with graphics above his shoulder. However, as he does poke fun at politicians and different events that occur, he stands out from other comedians because of his background. He considers his secret weapon in comedy his international perspective that distinguishes him from every other comedian in the U.S – especially those on TV. (Armstrong) Noah had a slow start of the Daily Show. After taking over from Jon Stewart, many people didn’t think that he had a strong comedy routine.
Armstrong, Jennifer Keishin. “Culture – How Trevor Noah Conquered US Comedy.” BBC, BBC, 5 Oct. 2017,
Itzkoff, Dave. “Can Hasan Minhaj Make Topical Comedy Work on Netflix?” The New York Times, The New York Times,
18 Oct. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/10/18/arts/television/hasan-minhaj-netflix-patriot-act.html.
For my fake drug ad, my partner and I focused more on SNL fake ads and some other videos we found by comedians that used similar techniques. Our fake drug ad focused on the idea of curing “decision depression”. A term we made up to describe the feeling that most second semester seniors feel when hearing back from colleges – whether it be rejections or acceptances which leads to the stress of ‘where do I go?!’ As we knew our audience would be second-semester seniors, we thought that this topic would be something that they could relate to and find funny.
Here is the script that we used for our project. It’s not exactly what we said in the actual video but it’s only off by a few words and phrases.
1: Are you feeling down?
2: *hold up blue construction paper cut-out of sad theater face* Blue?
1: or Hopeless? *short pause*
Well, it’s that time of year again when everyone is catching their breath and holding their head.
1 & 2: *excessively happily hold out pen* COLLEGE SEASON
2: Chances are you’re experiencing DECISION DEPRESSION
1: But don’t worry, you’re not alone. Millions of students across the nation feel this way, such as ourselves.
2: And to you I say, there’s hope! Take CEREBRIOLUM MORTEMYOL, or as it’s known in Latin, BRAIN DEATH
1: Cerebriolum Mortemyol stimulates your brain to create elevated levels of endorphins and dopamine, which decrease your feeling of Decision Depression and increase your feeling of happiness and comfort.
2: Cerebriolum Mortemyol also produces reserve pools of scholarships in the Pineal Gland of your brain. Not only does it cure your DECISION DEPRESSION, it can also help you save money by preventing stress eating.
1: Side effects may include headaches
1: and rashes
2: tingling throughout your phalanges
2: bleeding fingernails
1: hot flashes
2: sporadic dancing
1: aggressive repulsion to apples and ice
1: spontaneous racism
2: limb detachment
2: If you experience any of these symptoms for more than 336 hours, please talk to your doctor.
1: Cerebriolum Mortemyol. Your pill *short pause* for a better life.
Here is our final filmed performance of our ad.