Wanted to follow up on the funny Frog Bank riffing session that happened during Chief Chat #109 last Friday.
For those who missed it, you can check out the replay here (the bit starts at @49:14) but in a nutshell we were having fun combining the world of FROG with the world of BANK in order to dig up some potential humor in those combined worlds. Thanks to those who gave it a shot in the chat roll, funny stuff.
In the improvisational world, it’s called ‘finding the game’ of the scene, a concept that was first illuminated by improv guru Del Close, who then taught it to me in the nineties at Chicago’s famed Improv Olympic (now I/O). And oh yeah, Del had also taught it to John Belushi, Dan Akroyd, Tina Fay, Amy Poehler, Chris Farley, and a whole list of droppable names that goes on and on.
To a humorist, finding the game of a scene or an article is similar to when musicians ‘find the groove’ together while they’re jamming. Suddenly, without words, each understands where the creation is meant to go and they instantly become one mind. That group mind is so powerful, it creates from outside the brain, magically connected to the universe for however long it can be sustained.
Every funny joke you’ve ever heard, every hilarious SNL sketch you’ve ever seen has a game being played, two or more worlds being combined, and the humor comes from how cleverly and surprisingly those combinations are made and presented.
Re-watch those scenes (click the pics!) and you’ll notice that every audience laugh comes whenever the two worlds are combined. It’s the writers’ job to find as many clever ways to bring those worlds together over and over again within the context of the scene’s structure.
During the Chief Chat, @RandyRedinger brought up the Far Side comics, and he’s absolutely correct. Every one of Gary Larson’s cartoons was a combined world.
World 1: Kid Wrecking Dad’s Car
World 2: Cowboys
Combined World: Kid Wrecking Dad’s Horse
World 1: Kids playing on a street yell ‘Car’ when one comes and they move to the side
World 2: Cows
Combined World: Cows standing in a field yell ‘Car’ when one comes and they go to all fours.
During the Chief Chat, @AlixPenning mentioned a very famous 1988 movie that was 90 minutes of combined worlds:
If something makes you laugh, it’s because worlds are being combined, and the laugh comes from your brain ‘getting it,’ or understanding in a flash the game that’s being cleverly played by finding a connection between two separate and typically unconnected worlds.
For those who long to be funnier, understanding how worlds can combine to make humor gives you something you can practice, a way to strengthen your underused funny muscle.
For those who already consider themselves humorous, understanding how worlds can combine to make humor gives you a better understanding of the God-given technique that automatically happens in your brain whenever you crack people up. Which also gives you something you can practice, a way to strengthen your already toned funny muscle.
So here is my challenge.
For those interested in giving combining worlds a whirl, let’s write a funny scene together by combining the world of FROG with the world of BANK.
First order of business, we need to fully identify each world.
Secondly, we need to begin combining.
Lastly, if enough people present their combined worlds, I’ll use the results to write the first draft of a funny scene that we can all do re-writes on until it’s hilarious.
Anyone interested? Tell some friends and let’s get started.
I’ll go first.
FROG: flies, toad, webbed feet, amphibian, long tongue that snaps up bugs, green, slimy, bulging eyes, warts, lives in a pond, sits on a lily pad, we dissect them in high school, they jump far
BANK: money, stand in line, teller window, bank teller, money drawer, checking and savings account, the lobby, deposit and withdrawal slips, stern bank manager, bored bank security guard
- bugs = money
- five flies makes a beetle, ten beetles makes a cockroach, a hundred cockroaches makes a dragonfly
- bank teller pulls open his drawer and it’s full of different denominations of bugs
- Bank security guard is a fat toad with bulging eyes and excessive warts
- He wears a tight-fitting cop outfit with a tiny hat
- He mouth breathes heavily with his tongue hanging out slightly
- Stern bank manager is a blue, anal-retentive poison dart frog
- She wears spectacles
- She does not respect spacial boundaries with her employees
- She wears high-necked blouses to work to hide the scars on her chest from the failed dissection she escaped when she was young
- She has a secret crush on the bank guard and hates herself for it
- The Bank is located in a small, moist cave next to a well-populated pond
- The Bank has a controversial sign on it that says, “Amphibians Only”
- When a customer doesn’t have a deposit slip, one bank teller is nice enough to snap one up off the counter that’s ten feet away with her long tongue
That’s what I’ve come up with – now show me yours!
Have fun, looking forward to seeing where this goes…