Home Contact Biography Works Media News

Jane Recommends
Who Hates Whom / Bob Harris

Who Hates Whom: Well-Armed Fanatics, Intractable Conflicts, and Various Things Blowing Up A Woefully Incomplete Guide by Bob Harris

"The geopolitical equivalent of scorecards that get hawked at ball games. Only Bob could make a user’s guide to our increasingly hostile world this absorbing, this breezy, and—ultimately—this hopeful."
~ Ken Jennings, author of Brainiac


Jane in Print
Serenity Found: More Unauthorized Essays on Joss Whedon's Firefly Universe, edited by Jane Espenson

Flirting with Pride and Prejudice: Fresh Perspectives on the Original Chick-Lit Masterpiece, edited by Jennifer Crusie and including Jane Espenson's short story, "Georgiana"

Finding Serenity: Anti-Heroes, Lost Shepherds and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon's Firefly, edited by Jane Espenson and Glenn Yeffeth

Jane in DVD

Jane in DVD

Now Available:
+Battlestar Galactica Season 3
+Dinosaurs Seasons 3 & 4
+Gilmore Girls Season 4
+Buffy: The Chosen Collection
+Tru Calling
+Angel: Limited Edition Collectors Set

Jane in Progress


Home » Archives » June 2006 » an unprovoked slam at Carrot Top
[Previous entry: "It's Vistalicious!"] [Next entry: "Milking the Idea Cow"]

06/27/2006: an unprovoked slam at Carrot Top

There's a very funny joke on the always interesting Bob Harris blog today. Put in script format, and adapted into, oh, say… a House spec, it would go like this:

Cutty looks up from reading the newspaper.

Why would Rush Limbaugh take Viagra to the Dominican Republic?

To keep his pants up?

Haw! I love it. And I simply *must* discuss this unusual joke form distinguished by a punchline lifted from another joke. Delightful. I was sure I'd occasionally seen other jokes of this type, but I couldn't recall specific examples.

And yet my mind was fizzing with that feeling of recognized similarity. I finally realized that I was being reminded of the amazing cartoons at Spamusement.com. Have you seen these? They're cartoons fitted to the subject lines of actual spam emails. Just like the Bob Harris joke, these rely on the humor of working around a pre-existing punch line. I love these cartoons. I'm helpless in their grasp.

But what is it that makes this type of humor so irresistible? Personally, I think it's because these jokes have a perceived high level of difficulty. It's like the difference between a prop comic who uses custom-made props, versus an improv guy who has to make funny out of whatever bizarre unexpected object he's handed. You laugh more at the improv guy because you're giving him credit for the harder job of being fast and adaptable. As a script writer, you create the illusion of spontaneity. And a joke like this makes you seem really quick and clever, no matter how long you labor over it to get it just right.

If I were teaching a class, I think I'd give an assignment: come up with a new set-up for "to get to the other side." I bet we'd have some great ones.

Afterthought. After I wrote this it occurred to me that if this were in an actual House script, House's line might very well be prefaced with "Wait. I know this one..." It feels slightly more like him that way, don't you think?

Lunch: eggplant stew over tofu noodles.


Get Blog Updates Via Email

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz


Walt Disney Writing Fellowship Program
UC Berkeley
Jane recommends you also visit BobHarris.com



June 2006

Valid XHTML 1.0!

Powered By Greymatter
Greymatter Forums

Home | News | Works | Biography | Frequently Asked Questions

Site design Copyright © PM Carlson
This is a fan site owned and operated entirely by PM Carlson with the cooperation and assistance of Jane Espenson. This site is not affiliated in any way with Mutant Enemy, 20th Century Fox or ABC.