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Spilling the beans

Scott Adams is the world-famous creator of Dilbert. Recently, he started blogging, and it's quite fascinating and entertaining to those of us who enjoy both his strips and his other writings.

In today's entry, he gives away his biggest secret -- his formula for being funny. And damn if it doesn't ring true.

I've spent a lot of time seriously thinking about humor, and I have to say that I never came up with his 2 Of 6 Rule. But I think he really might be on to something.

It just goes to show you -- if you want to know why people laugh, don't bother with psychologists and psychiatrists and the like. Talk to those who make people laugh, and ask them.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Spilling the beans:

» The LLama Butchers linked with The Two of Six Rule

Comments (10)

He has a great blog!<... (Below threshold)

He has a great blog!

But, I disagree with this point he makes over there:

"All humor is about people. You can’t make humor about concepts or objects."

I agree that all humor is about people, but, it is possible to make humor about concepts or objects. It's done all the time.

The object says, "We don't ... (Below threshold)

The object says, "We don't get many concepts in here."

The concept replies, "At these prices, I can't say I'm surprised."

I guess Adams was right.

Sean Gleeson (and Adams): ... (Below threshold)

Sean Gleeson (and Adams): it's ALL about concept and some of it's about object. Humor is based in and of concept...all the rest is subject and action.

I wuz jest kiddin. Sorry. I... (Below threshold)

I wuz jest kiddin. Sorry. I agree with you, Suzy.

Hmmmm.but... (Below threshold)


but, it is possible to make humor about concepts or objects.

But to do so successfully you have to humanize these objects and concepts so that they represent people.

A computer by itself isn't funny. A computer that acts like a person, could be.

So in this I think I agree with Scott Adams.

Sorry Jay, but Scott is so ... (Below threshold)

Sorry Jay, but Scott is so far off the mark, his intent is surely misdirection.

There are exactly two reasons why we value comics or any other type of entertainment content--comedy and tragedy. Or as my editors say: Write stuff that is amusing or informative. Comedy helps us forget our troubles, and tragedy teaches us how to avoid those troubles in the first place.

Both these forms of entertainment disrupt our normal ways of thinking. Comedy is about those instances of disruption that allow us a soft landing.

Now I'm reading Pearls Befo... (Below threshold)

Now I'm reading Pearls Before Swine, and I can't stop. Thank you, Wizbang, for providing even more time-wasting material for me to indulge in.

Pearls before swine rocks.<... (Below threshold)

Pearls before swine rocks.

I, too, never managed to come up with the 2 of 6 rule, but it does seem to make sense. Do I get an automatic "animals" point for being a yak? Or is it subtracted (again automatically) because yaks are insufficiently cute?

I'm guessing it's that last part.

Interesting hypothesis he h... (Below threshold)

Interesting hypothesis he has there. I never actually anylyzed what makes 'funny' funny much. Much like I tend to enjoy music or other forms of art without analyzing them. It's interesting that he actually consciously puts these elements together.

I agree, ed, that a human e... (Below threshold)

I agree, ed, that a human element is necessary for the rest of us humans to interpret anything as humorsome.

The point I made earlier and still affirm here is that concept is an integral aspect to humor, not a foreign element. Without concept, and using your computer reference, you'd have a human staring at (or typing on, whatever) a computer.

Big whoop.

No concept involved, nothing of humor, nothing communicated beyond "I'm typing here."






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