What do a startup king, a social network innovator, a hip hop prince, perhaps the best actor on television, and two absolutely hilarious dudes have in common? They’re all among the Most Creative People—and we can learn quite a bit from the way they work.
Improv emphasizes showing over telling, a principle that often manifests in a technique known as “the invisible game” on Key & Peele. The central joke of these scenes is ladled out, beat by beat, but never spoken of. “The audience loves to figure things out,” says Key, who has extensive professional acting experience and a unique physicality honed by emulating silent masters such as Chaplin and Keaton. “They love it when a performer leaves a trail of bread crumbs for them, and they get to participate in the comedy.”
Innovation through improvisation: How Key & Peele busted the forumla and created something new
Anthony Jeselnik On How To Be Funny By Being Mean
There are plenty of ways to be mean. Anthony Jeselnik uses them all. Here, the creator and star of Comedy Central’s The Jeselnik Offensive talks about finding the funny in everything.
Anthony Jeselnik has nothing nice to say about anything. His persona is that of an arrogant prick, constantly airing grievances and confessing evil deeds. Frequent targets of abuse include family members, small children, and any woman with the misfortune of being one of his girlfriends. Through sheer commitment to character, though, and a deep respect for old-school joke crafting, Jeselnik has elevated “being a dick” to an art.
Of course, nobody gets laughs merely by saying horrible things. There’s a certain finesse to it—a strategy built on misanthropy—of which Jeselnik is the undisputed master. The cranky comedian recently shared with Co.Create the tricks to cracking jokes by being a jerk.
Appeal to your audience’s dark side.
I think the biggest laugh is when someone laughs at something they don’t think they should be laughing at. It’s just a different kind of laugh, and that’s the only laugh I want from an audience.
Desensitize through quantity.
People can feel a little better about laughing at something awful when it’s surrounded by other horrible things.
Smuggle mean in with the humorously tragic.
When I wrote for Fallon, my favorite stories were the more tragic ones that people could still make fun of. Like when the inventor of the Frisbee dies. It’s a chance to make a funny, silly joke about that, but it was also making fun of someone who just died.
Go ahead and offend people; they’ll get over it.
There’s a guy from New Zealand who was demanding an apology from me for this shark bit I did on the show recently. And I couldn’t care less. I would never apologize for anything. He’ll forget about it in a week. It doesn’t matter. He doesn’t know who I am. The criticism was “How can you make fun of New Zealand sharks when you wouldn’t make fun of 9/11 or Newtown?” I’ve made fun of both of those things a few times on the show.
Be mean for the right reasons.
Laughing after a tragedy takes the power away from it.
It depends on why you’re making the joke. Are you trying to get attention for yourself? Or are you really trying to make people laugh at something. I think one is more noble than the other.
People like being insulted…sometimes.
There’s something about not taking yourself seriously that’s really fun. Especially if someone’s good at it.
Use “third thought” to make mean twists surprising.
If I give you the setup of a joke, a punch line might pop in your head right away. That’s the first thought. But if your punch line is the first thought, nobody’s going to laugh at it because they’ve all already thought of it. If you sit there and think about what else might happen—the second thought—that could be an okay joke. But the third thought is where you really blow people away, because it’s something that they would have put together eventually, but it takes a while.
The bigger the tension, the bigger the release.
Sometimes the punch line is something offensive, sometimes the setup is offensive—where it just makes people uncomfortable. That’s when you can really pull the rug out—because they’re looking one way. You build up the tension and then release the tension, and everybody laughs. I just think you get a bigger laugh when you’re talking about offensive subjects
Pretend there’s no line (because there isn’t one).
There’s no line. Comedy can go anywhere, as long as you can make it funny.
How Ron Swanson became Ron Swanson.
My first meeting with Mike Schur, one of the two creators, about Ron Swanson, we almost opened the meeting by saying, “Well, this guy has a kickass mustache.” And I don’t usually wear a mustache. I think Mike had once seen me at an audition forThe Office with a mustache, so that was where we started.
There was a side of my demeanor—I’m not always stoic and expressionless like Ron, but sometimes I am. So I think Mike took that plainspoken, no-bullshit side of me, and liked that color a lot. They found it incredibly hilarious that someone would have a wood shop and make things out of wood for fun so they laced that into the character.
Comedy Hack Day, a 36-hour hackathon where participants from both the comedy and tech communities worked together to create some future funny business, appears to have been a crapload of fun.
The big winner of the event is ShoutRoulette, which connects opinionated users to other people with the exact opposite opinion, allowing them to shout at each other. Each member wins a class at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, and entry into the New York Tech Meetup. Other winners include the McKayla Is Not Impressed Chrome Extension (a meme generator), and Spacebar to Money Shot (um, don’t ask.) Even ScatRoulette wins something: The Chris Gethard Memorial Award, which consists of a hug from the judge that goes on for an exceedingly long period.
This is a branch of the Second City improv theater that launched the careers of Steve Carell and Tina Fey among many others. I had no idea they did public workshops until seeing them at our event a few months ago — the audience loved it.
Second City Communications applies the wisdom gained through improv comedy to help companies be more innovative and creative with their thinking. What Yorton has learned is that many folks in the business world simply lack experience thinking in uncritical ways. “People are expected to be good at this stuff, but it’s an unrealistic expectation given the amount of practice they get. So it’s not surprising that people aren’t really comfortable with it.”
Here are seven tactics to help spur uninhibited expression. With any luck, it’ll be raining innovative ideas in no time.
The legendary writer and actor recently enlightened a group of advertising types about the best ways to put yourself in a creative state of mind. Here’s what he said.
“Fred Armisen and I are obsessed with the minutiae of a situation. What is fomenting the most discomfort in a relationship? It’s usually where someone’s belief system kind of goes off the rails. That’s where we want to start exploring, because that moment is where you feel almost your worst.”
Carrie Brownstein, writer and actor, Portlandia, from The 100 Most Creative People In Business 2012
Ladies and Gentleman: Guy Nicolucci