Friday, February 6, 2009

funny words

Last night I went to The Great Canadian Laugh-Off where a good friend of mine was competing for a chance to win semi-finalist status, and then compete for the grand prize of $25,000. There were six comics in total and each had eight minutes to deliver a performance good enough to get them into semi-finals.

Each comic succeeded in eliciting laughter from the audience. All were different, projected different voices, and revealed different styles for one result: make 'em laugh. I sat near the back, sipping a gin and tonic, thinking about how solid comic writing can change someone's emotion, transform a shitty day into a great one, and temporarily allow someone to forget about their troubles. Laughing is powerful, but not as influential as its cause: those words that a comic pens and delivers on stage.

Where do hilarious stand-up comics get their inspiration from? Where do they find those ideas that are turned into situations and characters so funny, that people are able to forget their "bad day" and enjoy the present?

I did some research and found that most comedians find their inspiration in people. Many of them carry a notepad and pen or BlackBerry that they use to record funny or awkward situations and conversations fueled by family, friends, or strangers. A lot of behaviour observation occurs in the comic's life, as they are sensitive to details, interaction, and socialization, deepening their understanding of the human core. This makes me think that those with a natural talent of making others laugh are actually quite the introverts, watching all of us intently.

Here are some quotes from a few of my favourite comics that are (funnily enough) about people and human relations:

"Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes."
- Jim Carrey

"Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist."
- George Carlin

"Sometimes you can't see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others."
- Ellen DeGeneres

"There's very little advice in men's magazines, because men don't think there's a lot they don't know. Women do. Women want to learn. Men think, "I know what I'm doing, just show me somebody naked."
- Jerry Seinfeld