Humor

Our Humor unit consisted of reading two humorous works in English and creating our own project based off a variety of comedic improvisation exercises we did in class, spoken humor performances, and comedic terms an techniques we learned along the way.  This valued this unit because it taught me various forms of humor and required me to analyze comedy from a different perspective. I enjoyed reading both Rhinoceros by Eugène Ionesco, and Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Through reading these works, I learned of absurdism and different ways in which seemingly traumatic experiences can be portrayed as humorous.

My final project was not what I expected it to be. I feel as though my partner and I did a good job capturing various aspects of absurdity and exaggeration when we wrote the script and filmed for our project. However, I believe that the end product could’ve have been edited better and could’ve been a little more cohesive as a whole so that our audience could better understand and follow along.

Humor Project Proposal

Analysis of Two Humorist Inspirations

The television shows, The Office and Modern Family, use several similar techniques which influenced our humor project. The shows use anecdotes to incite laughter in the audience. In The Office, each day it’s a new story and everyone has their own individual narratives which they contribute to the storyline through their one-on-one time with the camera. The same can be said for Modern Family — there are different families who each get their time with the camera and share their own lives with the audience. Comedic banter is more prevalent in The Office than in Modern Famly. The show touches on office relationships and the playful and sarcastic banter which takes place in the workspace. In Modern Family, familial banter is portrayed more often in the wide-take shots (non-confessionals). The Office utilizes blue humor when characters joke about topics such as sex and bodily functions which is influenced by the head of the company, Micheal Scott. His too-often inappropriate conversations with his employees are funny to the audience since it’s something that usually doesn’t take place in an office. Here are a few additional comedic techniques often used in both shows:

  • Blunder
    • There is blunder attached to specific characters who are known to be typically “silly”. Their abnormal actions are humorous as adults in office spaces usually do not act in such a manner.
  • Diffusing anxiety
    • There is a situation in the show where the boss intentionally lights a fire in the office to practice fire drills with his employees. His calm seeming reaction to the fire he started is absurd and funny because no one would ever go about a fire drill in the same way.
  • Verbal irony
    • The sarcasm used in the show is incorporated within the witty banter that takes place between characters. One person may think they know more than the other and use sarcasm to level the playing field when in fact they don’t know anything.  
  • Dramatic irony
    • This technique is present when characters talk in the confessionals. They admit to things which their co-workers do not know which in turn makes the audience laugh because they know something the other characters do not.
  • Situational humor
    • As people share their personal stories with the camera, they add to the shows overall situational humor because their individual experiences tie into a larger, more-humourous scheme.

Description of Chosen Project

  1. Are you working with a group? Yes* or No
    1. Yes, working with Kyra P.
  2. Which form of humor are you planning to develop? (See menu.) Will it be a LIVE or pre-recorded performance?
    1. It will be a pre-recorded performance of a comedic narrative.
  3. What is the subject (or, in the case of satire, the target)? Why did you choose this subject?
    1. The subject will be a TV segment from a show resembled after Keeping up with the Kardashians yet certain situations and conversations will be exaggerated. We chose this subject because we feel as though making a funny sketch based off of the popular TV show can be humorous in several ways seeing as the show is already so dramatized. We believe the melodramatic segment we have in mind will be absurd and funny.
  4. Which comedic tools/techniques do you plan to use, and why? (List at least 3 main ones):
    1. As listed above, we want to use absurd humor because it will be funny to make such normal-seeming situations totally abnormal. We also want to incorporate diffusing anxiety since it’s humorous to make scary or usually frightening situations feel lighter all with comedy. Finally, we want to use exaggerism since we think it adds on the effect of absurdity in our project and overdramatizing events will make people laugh.
  5. 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?
    1. I feel as though this is the right humor project since it’s been something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and due to that I’m invested in making the final product the best that I can. I excited about using my actual family members as actors for this project. Some pitfalls I want to avoid are last minute filming and editing.

Project Rubric

Script of Project

Beginning

Leisha gets the mail

Aida: I never thought about this before, but like honestly… what does the fox say??

Grace: omg truee.

Leisha: You have been cordially invited to celebrate the taxidermy licensing of Nick-Rick-Bobby-Sloppy-Toppy III

*looks at camera annoyed*; family is happy and Makeda is fake clapping

Makeda (confessional): Guess somebody forgot about my jiujitsu white belt ceremony tonight…

cries on camera

Car Scene

Katie’s driving & Aida’s in the front seat; Leisha, Makeda, and Grace are in the back seat

Grace and Makeda singing: 92 bottles of Voss on the wall 92 bottles of Voss take one down pass it around 37 bottles of Voss on the wall!…

Katie: do you guys think we should get Uncle Nicky a Dora balloon or a Spongebob balloon?

Aida: Are you being serious? This isn’t Up. And you know he’s afraid of balloons.

Dramatic music starts; Queue “fight”

Katie: What are you talking about? Are you forgetting about that time in Papua New Guinea when he showed us his balloon magic?

Aida: You mean the time he fed his dog helium and walked him around??

Makeda in the back is freaking out; Leisha is annoyed

Katie: You’re being ridiculous he never did that.

Aida: OH-I’M… *gets out phone* 911 we have an emergency…  

Aida jumps out of the car while it’s moving; Katie continues to drive

Katie (confessional): I just don’t understand why she had to do that. She was acting really immature.

Dinner Scene

Katie, Leisha, Makeda, & Grace show up to the doorUncle Ricky opens the door: Salutations my- *looks up at ballon* *faints*

Aida (confessional): Told you.

Katie, Leisha, Makeda, & Grace walk right past Uncle Ricky’s body; Cut to everyone at the dinner table except Aida; *Aida walks in with someone*

Katie: who’s that?

Aida: Oh no one, just my massage therapist.

Queue dramatic music

Makeda (confessional): How could she?? She knows we have a family massage therapist.

Katie is tense; Makeda is taking pictures

Aida (confessional): I had to let them know…

Grace: Where’s the bathroom?

Uncle Ricky: Ah yes, the Barack room, it’s down the stairs and then second door to the right.

Grace sees door with Barack Obama’s face on it

Grace: Ah, this is what he meant when he said the Barack room…

Back to dinner tableAida and NorthEastSouthWest are seated

NorthEastSouthWest (confessional): Hi my name is NorthEastSouthWest and I’m a- *gets cut off*

Aida: NorthEastSouthWest, do that thing I like -What is it called? Ah yes, barata. 

Katie (confessional): I think I’m going to have to use the child leash on her again.

Leisha (confessional): I’ve filed for emancipation.

*Back to Grace in the bathroom*; Grace is acting like a news reporter in the mirror

Grace (confessional): Sometimes to calm myself down, I’ll act like Anderson Cooper… It works like a charm!

*Back to dinner table*

Makeda: Wow Uncle Nick-Rick-Bobby-Sloppy-Toppy, that meal was delightful!

Uncle Nick: much obliged!

Makeda (confessional): I hope his taxidermy is better than is cooking. That meal was nAsTy.

All of the family looking out onto the horizon

Uncle Nick: thank you all so much for coming and helping me celebrate this new start to my life!

Katie: of course Nicholas anytime

Katie is holding Aida by a child leash and she’s trying to escape; Makeda is practicing her jujitsu; Grace is talking to herself in the mirror; Leisha is starting the car and driving away

Humor Project Performance

Live performance of humor project.

Welcome to my world!