Comedy, in its numerous forms, is the finest remedy to a disturbed mind. But like every medicine, comedy works on a simple principle – which I call ‘The Prime Comedic Principle’
The Prime Comedic Principle
Comedy is mainly of two type – visual and verbal. In the past when recording device weren’t developed, visual comedy was the norm. And after the advent of audio recording and talkie films, comedy gradually became more and more verbal. Irrespective of which kind of comedy you prefer, it revolves around one principle.
The Prime Comedic Principle states that in order to be humorous sequence or speech must form an expectation in the minds of its audience and then overthrow that expectation.
Take a look comic scene from the hugely successful SITCOM ‘Friends’
Joey, Chandler, Monica and Rachel are looking at an old home video of Monica, when she was fat.
Joey points to fat Monica on the screen and screams
“Some girl ate Monica!”
The audience laughs.
Monica dismisses him quoting a popular TV phrase
“Shut up the camera adds ten pounds”
Now the usual expectation is that the joke ends here. But that expectation is overthrown as Chandler stretches the joke one last time.
“So how many cameras were actually on you?”
The audience bursts into laughter on this final punchline.
If you want to make someone laugh, create an expectation and then destroy it. The more expert comedians go the extra mile, destroying a single expectation two or three times over. So if you are pursuing a career as a comedian or are just looking to improve your sense of humour, this rule is for you.
Note : The Prime Comedic Principle is just a rough guideline. Comedy is an art; art thrives on the occasional breaking of rules. So don’t follow the principle to the letter, but just keep it in mind.