Theories of Humour

Scott Adams is giving away all his secrets:

The core of humor is what I call the 2-of-6 rule. In order for something to be funny, you need at least two of the following elements:

  • Cute (as in kids and animals)
  • Naughty
  • Bizarre
  • Clever
  • Recognizable (You’ve been there)
  • Cruel

I invented this rule, but you can check for yourself that whenever something is funny it follows the rule. And when something isn’t, it doesn’t.

I recently read Comedy Writing Secrets by Mel Helitzer, who had a similar theory about humour (or as you Americans spell it, humor). His is the rule of THREES. The more of the following that a joke contains, the funnier it’ll be:

  • Target: the butt of the joke
  • Hostility: works best if directed at somebody superior to the audience
  • Realism: be believable
  • Emotion: get people involved
  • Exaggeration: but not too much
  • Surprise: otherwise known as the punch line

The two theories are completely different, but both seem plausible when you think about it. So what’s your theory on what’s funny?

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