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05/23/2006: Squiggy and the Sea Creatures
First, an update. The day after I posted the entry about the Squiggy jokes, an actor friend of mine happened to be waiting for a voice-over audition, when who walked into the room?... Squiggy! If only there had been some warning, he could've set up the entrance!!
All right. Back to our regularly scheduled blog:
Have you heard about nudibranches? No? They're the coolest things. Beautiful, brightly-colored, looking like tiny exotic glass art sculptures when photographed, they're simply the most lovely sea slugs you'll ever see. Do an image search for "nudibranch" and you will gasp with joy. Stunning. I'm hoping to see some on my next snorkel adventure. Can you imagine being an expert on these things? Fantastic.
Being a comedy writer can be like being a naturalist. Sometimes you stumble across a species that hasn't been catalogued before. Here is an example of the small and exotic "audience assumption joke."
Barney's was crazy. Ok, what would you do if there was only one size four cashmere camisole, and this woman starts crying, and says she needs it to wear to a funeral? You'd have to give it to her, right?
Good... I think I'll use that one again.
It's a nicely surprising joke, and one of the most character-revealing kinds of jokes I can think of. Here's a good one of the same type, this time from Friends:
If I turn into my parents, I'll either end up an alcoholic blond chasing after 20-year-old boys...or I'll end up like my mom.
Here's another one, a little different, but clearly in the same family, from the Simpsons. Grandpa Simpson is trying to cheer up Lisa, who is disappointed by a failed attempt at something:
Oh, Lisa, don't talk like that. I never thought I'd shoot down a German plane -- and then last year...
This particular one doesn't rely on the audience's assumption about "who," but their assumption about "when." There was a similar one - even similar in content - on The Office recently too, in which Dwight is talking about his grandfather's accomplishments in the war, finally mentioning that he ended up finishing out the war in a Allied prison camp! Hee! Assumptions are great!
I guess what I really like about these is that, like other techniques we've talked about lately, they presuppose an audience that's thinking, that's anticipating, that's involved in the stories they're being told. And if you expect that, you're more likely to get that.
Lunch: Another In 'N' Out burger! Bunless! With rootbeer! I like my new deal with Universal. There's an In 'N' Out right by Universal.