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The School Newspaper of Texas High School

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The School Newspaper of Texas High School

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How to Better Understand Humor


Humor, mankind’s final frontier. Those who are lucky enough to unravel its secrets obtain the power to alter any situation, be it tragic or terrifying, into something hilarious with little to no effort. The unlucky, however, will underestimate a joke’s potential and will risk saying something hurtful and offensive.

What is it that distinguishes the line between funny and rude? Why do some punch lines bring pain instead of pleasure? For someone like me, a self-made comedian, this question desperately needs to be answered. With little time to solve this mystery, due to the limitations of my attention span, I grabbed a computer, fought off my urge to get on YouTube, and scrounged up every scrap of information I could find. In my studies, I discovered that although it is generally classified as one word, humor is actually composed of several factors: perspective, depth and wittiness.

The first factor, perspective, is the angle of the subject that is being made fun of. The perspective of a yo mama joke, for example, is not so much making fun of a person’s mother but instead highlighting the fact that she’s abnormal in a humorous way.

The depth of the joke, or how far you take it, would be the punchline. The punchline should go a great distance but it should never go too deep. For example, saying, “You’re so dumb that you brought a spoon to the super bowl,” is bad because calling a person dumb is hurtful and mean.

The final, and perhaps most vital point of a joke, is the wittiness, or how clever the joke is. No one enjoys a joke that’s dull and obvious. A good joke should make people think briefly and provide a secondary reason to laugh, such as: “Skeletons may not be scary, but if you find one in your boyfriend’s closet, then I bet you’ll crap your pants.” The joke here has two meanings, the first is that a skeleton in a closet is a reference to a secret, and the other is that the guy is a killer.

Armed with a greater understanding of humor, anyone can become a successful comedian. So long as you remember to attack a specific angle, don’t take it too far and apply a clever punchline, your jokes will be hilarious every time.

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About the Contributor
DJ Mack, co-entertainment editor
DJ is a senior and starting his second year on newspaper as co-editor of the entertainment section. The entertainment section helps him express his love for “Maverick” and show his true loyalty to the swag icon that is Tom Cruise. Whenever he’s not spending his weekend afternoons pondering on the theory of relativity, young Dwight can often be found watching Adventure Time in his room. As the co-entertainment editor of the newspaper, DJ is always finding ways to attribute his comedic talents into making the school as humorous as possible.

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How to Better Understand Humor