Comedy Challenge | Are You Funnier Than Jake?

I’m a big fan of comedy, but like with anything there are certain styles I prefer to others. I’ve never been one to judge another comedian’s selection of material per se, but I will point out when a performer is relying too heavily on gratuitous F-bombs and by “gratuitous” I mean the F-bomb makes up a majority of your dialogue.

But that’s not what this particular blog is about. This one is about what is commonly referred to as “potty humor” or in some circles “shit” jokes. Not a big fan, but sometimes they can make you laugh. I am a big fan of the theory that as comedians we’re only guessing and the audience is the judge, so if the audience is laughing consistently, leave it in.

The reason I bring up this particular topic is that a couple of my favorite comics: Jake and Rob are currently involved in a little competition that deals with “potty humor”. But I find it very funny and I have participated in the competition. Jake, known world over for his crassness, called Rob one night and said: “I took a shit so big it had a tail number!” (referring to an aircraft) This was played over Rob’s speakerphone and everyone in the room started to laugh. It became a game and everyone—even the ladies in the room, (most were comedians)—wanted to play along. So we all tried to outdo one another as to who could come up with the funniest line, based on the phrase: “I took a shit so big…”

I realized that despite the fact that it was potty humor, it was an excellent exercise in using contrasting elements to create humor. The game has even traveled outside our circle as other people have “texted” us with their versions.

Jake was recently re-crowned king of the shit jokes when he image-texted me this picture in the middle of the night: The caption attached to the picture said, “I took a shit so big it won an Oscar!” I laughed so hard I thought I might…well, take a shit so big…(Yes, I said it, and I’m not proud…)

What made the joke even funnier is that he is holding an actual Oscar won for ‘No Country For Old Men’ (speaking of taking shits so big…) Just kidding. This Oscar was from ‘The Bourne Ultimatum.’ I won’t say who won it or what it was for, to keep them from a possible embarrassing moment knowing that their prestigious award is the butt of a shit joke, (no pun intended). Who knows they may get a kick out of it too. A ton of people have surprised us with wanting to participate in our game!

Now I know there are going to be some people out there who are grossed out by this and for them I say, DON’T READ IT. Humor comes in different styles, genres and tastes. Some people like shit jokes, some don’t. But as a lifelong student of comedy I try to take in all styles and all types and if it doesn’t suit me I can usually be assured that somebody, somewhere is laughing.

So now it’s your turn. CAN YOU BE FUNNIER THAN JAKE?. This is a great exercise juxtaposing contrasting elements and for understanding that nothing is off limits. Give it your best shot…to get you started, here are some of the ones already in play:

I took a shit so big:
– Don King promoted it.
– Michael Bay directed it.
– Tom Arnold married it.
– It sacked Tom Brady
– You could see it from the Space Shuttle.
– It was insured by Lloyds of London
– It only gets three miles-per-gallon.
– France gave it to the U.S. as a gift.

Have fun!

Contrasting Elements

Humor in Contrasting Elements
by Jerry Corley, founder of The Standup Comedy Clinic

It’s called a “sense” of humor for a reason. Just as human beings possess a sense of sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste, we humans also have a sense of humor in that our sense is capable of development and improved sensitivity. Also keep in mind that just as our other five senses are unique to each individual, so is our sense of humor. You’ve probably had the experience of laughing out loud at something you seen, heard or read and someone else close to you doesn’t laugh at all and when you say, wasn’t that funny? They just stare at you. That is a perfect example of your sense of humor being unique to you and your experiences. Comedy is subjective and therefore everything doesn’t make everyone laugh.

I like to follow this adage: “We’re only guessing…the audience is the judge.”

You can, however develop your sense of humor to be much more acute to everyday situations that have the possibility of making people laugh. All jokes or funny situations do have particular elements that occur regularly, which are responsible for making them funny. What if you could make sure that your material contained these elements before trying them out on others wouldn’t that help you in preparing the best set possible?

One of the simplest formulas in comedy theory is what I like to call a juxtaposition of contrasting elements. It’s basically putting two things together that don’t usually go together and playing them out as if it was totally natural and common. For example: “scuba diving” and “fast-food drive-thru”. Your choice of target or subject is important too and will impact the way somebody laughs at your joke. Since comedy is a veiled attack the subject should be someone or something that appears to deserve the said attack. If you choose something or someone who is innocent or as yet “undeserving” of attack or criticism, then an audience will wonder why you attacked them for no reason. So be sure you set up someone as a villain or choose something or someone who needs the rug pulled out from under them.

So, for this example of humor my target is the social networking site, “MySpace” and the women who send you photos of themselves eager to meet a new “friend” when, in reality, they are advertising their porn website. This immediately conjures up an attitude in me of annoyance, which, to me, makes the subject worth attacking.

A woman sent me a picture of herself climbing a ladder, wearing scantily clad shorts, her bulbous ass sticking out of them. Her expression was that of a woman trying to be sexy…either that or her best impression of a dyspeptic terrier. The comment attached to the photo was “Don’t be a stranger…God Bless!”

The implication here is that a bimbo exploiting herself for sex is sanctioned by the almighty. To me that’s funny!

But this joke isn’t completely fleshed out yet. This particular joke lends itself to the idea that one or many tags could play off it.. The tags would focus on other things one could say or do with God’s blessing…You might say something like: “What if other entities used that same approach? Porn sites featuring intro pages like: “Enter here for the hottest hardcore porn on the Internet! Enjoy and God Bless!” Budweiser could run their typical ad where two average guys crack a bud and the Budweiser Twins show up in bikinis rubbing up on the two guys… “Hi Boys!” Then the tagline: “Drink Responsibly— God Bless!” “A cigarette commercial: More Flavor, Less Tar—God Bless!”

The possibilities become endless of putting two contrasting elements together that normally don’t go together and playing them as if they do. Try this yourself and see how many you can come up with!

Jerry Corley is a professional comedian, actor and writer and teaches comedy writing and performing at The Standup Comedy Clinic in Los Angeles.

Comedy Is Easy!

I was driving today listening to the radio loudly (it hides the strange new noise coming from my front end–I mean who needs to pay $600 to a mechanic, right?) and a commercial came on. It was that Dos Equis commercial; “The Most Interesting Man in the World.” I like this commercial. It’s interesting. It’s funny. It has a nice film-quality, tension-building score, and when you’re listening to a radio commercial who doesn’t want a nice film-quality, tension-building score, right? Bottom line: I dig the commercial. I doesn’t get me to buy the beer but who cares? Well, besides the marketing folks doling out the mil to pay for it…dosequis

Anyway, you’re probably asking what this has to do with comedy being easy? What I mean by that, is sometimes–if you fine-tune your ‘sense’ of humor you can see things funny that other people don’t necessarily see as funny, with practice and a lot of work, (you knew there was a catch, huh?)–then comedy can be easy. In fact sometimes comedy just writes itself. I’m a big structure guy when it comes to comedy. Formula and structure win out all the time and they are time-tested and ageless. No matter how you slice it, or what comedian you are talking about. Structure wins. Because with structure you can create surprise and since surprise is the number one trigger to produce laughter in humans, you create comedy. Watch any comedian who was on top for a while, then suddenly they aren’t. They can’t seem to turn it around…they aren’t funny. It’s usually because they lost their structure or they never knew what it was in the first place. I won’t mention any names because it would be indiscreet–‘Dice’ Clay.

Back to surprise. There are several ways to formulate surprise in humor. One of them is to use incongruities; match two things together in a relationship that normally don’t fit together, (ie: Brittany Spears and motherhood) and you have surprise…surprise creates laughter. You have comedy! Easy? The key is, it takes a lot of work to hone that sense of humor so that you can more readily recognize inconguities not recognized by the masses and present them. (Otherwise known as observational comedy)…

Back to the Dos Equis Commercial…the humor in this commercial is evident in the body of the commercial. But, to me, it’s not as funny as the stuff that shows up that they didn’t plan to be funny. In this case it’s the product tag at the end. The announcer says in his announcer voice: “Imported by ‘Cervezas Mexicanas’…  (here comes the incongruity..), White Plains, New York.” Of course he utilizes the spanish accent on the words “cervezas mexicanas” and goes back to the professionally-trained announcer voice on: “White Plains, New York.” The incongruity of something so authentically Mexican would be imported by something so white-bread that it even has the name ‘White’ in it, strikes me as funny! It’s like seeing a sign on a restaurant: “Authentic Chinese Cuisine…Se Habla Espanol.” Again: Incongruity.

In fact, with “Cervesaz Mexicanas…White Plains, New York,” you can actually imagine Conan O’Brien using that and then plugging in the running gag…”White Plains, New York” throughout an entire show; “…and later on the show, we have George Clooney paying us a visit, (pause for applause). He’s coming all the way from…(Conan flips his hair) “…White Plains, New York.”

Like I said…comedy is easy!

Jerry Corley is the founder of The Stand Up Comedy Cinic in “White Plains, New York”…just kidding! Burbank, CA.

 


How Barack Obama Got Me Laid

 

by Jerry Corley fournder of  The Stand Up Comedy Clinic

 

A good friend recently asked me to contribute some writing about the Obama Generation to an online magazine, (www.Kougarmagazine.com). I’m a stand-up comedian and not much of a writer in that fashion, but I wanted to help him out by doing my best to come up with something. I scoured my brain, sat down and prepared to write. My preparation usually includes drinking six cups of coffee and making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. So into my sixth cup and after wiping some stray Jiff off my lips, I thought to myself: who is the Obama Generation? My words flowed thusly:

 

After one of the most watched presidential elections of all time, Barack Hussein Obama is the 44th , and first black president of the United States. It’s incredible, it’s electrical it’s, a lie! Well, not entirely a lie, but it is only a half-truth. Because, as many tend to forget, he’s half-white! That’s right: Half-white! Barack Obama’s father was a black man from Kenya and his mother was a white woman from Kansas.

 

When I found this out, the first question that came to my mind was: How did that happen? People from Kansas don’t really travel much—the horses tend to get tired. But I know for a fact that they don’t travel much, because when I was in Kansas, I met a girl after a show and she bragged that she once went “all the way to Wichita.” We were in Haysville—about 20 miles South of Wichita. I wanted to be polite, so I acted impressed and truly involved—let’s not kid one another, I wanted to get laid. I mean, she was hot!—well, in a Haysville, Kansas sort of way… “Wow, ” I said, “That’s quite a trek. All the way to Wichita? You must be exhausted…I hope the wagon seat had a cushion!..blah, blah blah…” –And yes, I wore a condom.

 

But when I asked her what she thought about Barack Hussein Obama she replied, “You mean that guy from Iraq?”  When I politely corrected her—we were still in foreplay mode—she said that she didn’t think that a black man had a shot at being the president of the United States. I said, “do you think he would have a shot if he was half-white?” And, in a defensive tone, (uncannily similar to the tone used by Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder when he said, “What do you mean ‘those people?’”)—she said, “What do you mean: ‘half-white?’

 

I proceeded to tell her that Barack Obama’s mother was from Kansas. She stopped me dead in my tracks and said, “You mean this Kansas?”  It was a long, arduous process trying to reach this girl. But I think I had a breakthrough. She started asking more questions about Barack Obama and I gave her answers. She needed answers. Her father—a lifetime republican—was recently laid-off and her brother was on his fifth tour in Iraq. She believed in climate change and thought Sarah Palin was “embarrassing.” She said, with true Simon Cowell indignance, “I mean, everyone knows that you can’t see Russia from Alaska…look at any map…it’s right near Hawaii and everyone knows Russia’s nowhere near Hawaii, otherwise no one would go on vacation there.” Yes, she said this. It may have been her attempt at a joke, but I didn’t read it that way. But it did confirm the suspicion: I was desperate.

 

I ordered a “Maker’s Neat” not because I usually drink whiskey straight but because it impressed her—let’s not kid ourselves, if you want to get naked with a hot chick, you need to impress—and continued talking to her about Barack, (those of us who know him well, just use his first name—those who know him really well, just call him “B” like “Whassup ‘B’?”—who am I kidding? I’m a white, bald, 40-something-comedian from Chatsworth!) I told my new special Kansas friend about ‘B’s’ background: working in community organizations, serving the neighborhood and moving his way into national politics as a bright, first term senator who gave a kick-ass speech at the Democratic Convention when John Kerry was running for president. And she said to me something that was four-year-old-simple, yet extremely profound. She said, “How do you know when a speech is ‘kick-ass?’”
 

For a moment, I was stumped. How do you know when a speech is ‘kick-ass?’ I flashed with heat. The hair on the back of my neck stood up. I completely blushed…partly from the panic of being stumped and partly because, just then she adjusted her loose-fitting top and caught me glancing at an inadvertently exposed nipple…we both laughed at our mutual embarrassment and then it hit me…not the answer to what makes a speech kick-ass, but a fist the size of a hockey glove! Evidently her meth-addicted, ex-boyfriend had been watching this whole time and decided he had enough. He raced up and punched me square in the forehead! Not a difficult task, because if you saw the size of my forehead you’d know he had a huge target…

 

“Honey…are you okay…Baby, are you alright?” …I heard when I came to. The bartender gave her ice in a baggie and she put it to my forehead as I re-seated myself at the bar. I told her I didn’t really feel anything…another reason for drinking whiskey straight…She explained to me that her jealous ex-boyfriend punched me in the head and the bouncers are taking him out to the cops right now…this was good for two reasons: 1. He was going to spend the night in jail, and 2. Sympathy…this increases my chances of getting laid.

 

The bartender gave me another ‘Maker’s Neat’ and after about four seconds of applied ice the girl actually returned to the conversation she said, “So how do you know when a speech is kick-ass?” It was either the Maker’s talking or the punch in the forehead, but I just started talking, I said, “Human beings react to emotional impulses that are genuine.”  She started to give me that far-away glance that people sometimes give when you bring up the subject of algebra. So I said, “You ever watch a scene in a movie where real emotion is taking place and you find yourself crying?”

            “Yes”

            “Is it because something is being put in the popcorn or in the seats we’re sitting in?…No. It’s because genuine human emotion is occurring on that screen and as humans with souls, we have no choice but to respond.”

            “So, ” she said.

            “Well, when Barack Obama speaks, he not only speaks eloquently with beautiful metaphors and smooth structure, but he speaks with genuine human emotion. When he speaks my eyes water, I feel, because he means what he says. For the first time in my life, a politician’s words have touched my soul…to me that means truth. And after the last eight years, don’t you think the people of this country deserve some truth?”

 

She looked directly at me with what seemed like a minute-long, intense stare like she was just flooded with emotion, and then her eyes—a compelling blend of gray and Egyptian green—started to water…

 

On January 23rd, I received an email from my new Kansas friend:

 

Jerry,

 

It’s been awhile. I just felt the need to drop the funny man a line and say hi :-). A lot has happened since we talked last. My brother came home from Iraq for good (hopefully). He has all his fingers and toes, thank God! My Dad is still looking for work. It’s tough in Kansas, not a lot of jobs here!

 

I got a call from my boyfriend, (well ex-boyfriend now) we got back together after I met you, but then broke up again. He was in jail and wanted me to bail him out. I told him ‘no.’ He stole a car and stuff.

 

I had a great time with you. You made an impression on me. You really did. In Novemember I voted for the first time ever and my Dad would probably kill me if he found out, but I voted for Barack Obama! :-) 

 

I listened to his speeches and at first I didn’t get it, but then all of the sudden I started getting tingles on my arms just like that night we talked after comedy night. And the next thing you know I was looking for a tissue…because you weren’t there to give me a cocktail napkin! LOL.

 

Here’s the big news: I can’t believe I’m actually saying this: I went to the inauguration! My friend, (he’s male, don’t get mad) wrote to our congressman and we were chosen with some other people to get tickets. Ha Ha! Now I can say I went all the way to Washington D.C. LOL.

 

Write me back!

 

Tisha

 

 

So I guess the answer to the question: “Who is the Obama Generation” can possibly be answered this way: anyone with a heart and a need to feel like they belong, like they matter, like they are included. Could be anyone, black or white; gay or straight; male or female. Even someone you originally mistook as just some gullible hot chick in a small town in Kansas…Thanks ‘B’…thanks for serving, thanks for being truthful and thanks for getting me laid!

 

JC