Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Now, I see an adorable puppy snoozing. My wife, the lovely Virginia, sees clean towels with boo-hairs all over them

Skank-hanking in the hoosegow hanger, Torn Slatterns and Nugget Ranchers

The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat to win the NBA Championship. It’s interesting, the term Maverick is an old cowboy ranching expression that means: Sucks to be LeBron.

In fact, it is so bad, LeBron could actually improve his image by texting young women pictures of his crotch.

The commercial for the Tony Awards featured Neil Patrick Harris saying; “You have the best seat in the house.” Gosh, that is flattering, apparently Neil Patrick Harris likes my butt.

After deserting his hometown team, Cleveland, and predicting eight championships for the Miami Heat, choking during the finals and losing, LeBron James told his critics they need to get a life. Even Anthony Weiner is saying; “Dude, quit acting like such a dick.”

TMZ published a picture of a half-naked Rep. Anthony Weiner in the Congressional gym; the bright side? It’s not a picture of a half-naked Barney Frank in the Congressional gym.

Since you asked:
Here is a monologue joke writing theory of mine. A topical joke is a math problem with two or sometimes three numbers, the goal is to get it to add up to as high as you can on a scale of one to ten. The set up or premise is a story somewhere from the news. The tricky part is getting a funny punch line to go with it.

No lie, the other day a soccer parent said;

“Hey, I hear you write jokes. I’ve got a great one for you. You know how that congressman named Weiner sent pictures of his penis?”


“Well write a joke about that.”

This was followed by the obligatory;

“Send me half the money when you get it.”

So my feeling – and obviously not a feeling shared by all comedy writers – is to get to X +Y= 10 or W+X+Y= 10 however you can. The easiest way is to start with a funny premise. “A guy in Montana married his cow” or “Congressmen Weiner sent pictures of his penis” these are funny topics that start the joke out with a laugh that is about a three or four. Now you only need a seven or six punch line to meet your goal.

But when you start out with “Wow, is this economy bad.” Or, “Gosh, did you see the stock market tank today?” or “Gas prices are so high” or "Scientists say global warming is going to kill all of us" or “Housing prices are falling so much” or “Unemployment is way up” you are digging a hole of a negative -2 or -3. Now you need a punch line that is a 12 or 13 to get to ten.

People don’t stay up to 11:35 PM to be reminded of how crappy the economy is or that mother nature wants us all dead. Believe me, if they are unemployed, the last thing they want to hear are jokes about being unemployed. If a tornado hit their town, they don't want to hear about that.

Folks want to relax and hear jokes about idiot millionaires like LeBron James or an idiot congressmen who sent pictures of his bidness and they want to hear about Donald Trump’s hair.

It could be interpreted that there is something off-putting about guys who make anywhere from five to thirty million-a-year making jokes about how tough the economy is.

Again, it is not that people/viewers are stupid, it is the exact opposite. People are very smart about what they do and don’t want to be reminded of before they go to bed. And yet so many monologue topics hammer about high gas prices, shrinking ozone, unemployment, studies that show increases in cancer risks, high taxes, big deficits.

These are the exact topics smart, hard-working, well-informed people do not want to be reminded.

Obviously if some economic problem dominates the news, like the mortgage melt-down and fall of Lehman Brothers, you have to mention it in the monologue or you look like an idiot. But just do one joke, don't dwell on it.

A term I use to describe knowing what people want to hear jokes about is having good water cooler sense. What are people in offices choosing to talk about during a break at the water cooler? Do they want to talk about work? No. Do they want to talk about how hard it is going to be to make money because the economy sucks? Hell no. Do they want to talk about their mortgage? No.

Maybe I am not the greatest comedy writer in the world. But, for whatever reason, I have a really good handle on the topics people want to hear jokes told.

They want to talk about sports, stupid celebrities, “American Idol”, movies, viral YouTube kitty clips, funny TV shows, guys who marry their cows in Montana and what everyone is doing this weekend.

Especially if they are planning to have sex with a cow.