A fart joke that makes you think.
For those of you who can’t watch the video, the first joke is that someone pitches a sketch in which he shoots himself dead… and does this. Asked “where’s the second joke?”, he farts.
Not exactly highbrow, but two jokes in five seconds is a good rate and a lot more than some comedies and sketches I’ve seen of late.
Laugh by numbers
YouTube states it has nearly a million clips classed as comedy but there is a reason why the 5 Second Film clip made me think.
After I watched it, I started my own little test and, like the sketch, asked “where’s the second joke?” whenever I listened to or watched a comedy sketch.
I stopped laughing.
Not completely, but enough to make me notice that sketches that featured only joke came across as one note.
Cowards and the test
Case in point – Cowards. Having been told how wonderful they were, I thought I’d put my theory to a rather shaky test (I made it up on the spot) and listen to their radio show.
“Decidedly monotone” was my feeling, or, if I were Judge Kritic (more on him another day) “boring with intent”, each joke in the sketch stretched to beyond the tension point.
Yet it’s not just sketches that the second joke applies to. Sitcoms and comedy films too can find a need for a second joke, not just per scene, but for the whole work.
Trigger Leave it out will you Del, you've only got two pairs. Boycie No, no, Trigger. It's alright, let Del have his little moment, come on Del let's see your two pairs. Del (Laying two cards onto the table) I've got one pair of aces. Boycie (Bored) Yeah. Del And I've got... (Laying another two cards onto the table) ...another pair of aces. Boycie is stunned as he realizes he has been beaten. His cigar falls from his open mouth. Del smiles sweetly at him. Rodney, Grandad and Trigger stare disbelievingly at the four aces on the table. Boycie That's four aces!! Del I didn't know that you were good at Maths either Boycie. Trigger Four aces! I ain't never seen it before! Rodney Four aces! Four bloody aces! Rodney turns to shout Grandad in from the kitchen, not realizing he is stood beside him. Rodney (cont'd) Grandad! Sorry! He's got four aces, SEE! Grandad I thought Del Boy might have something up his sleeve! Del reacts to Grandad's comment, indicating that is exactly where the other two aces came from. Rodney Oh look at all that lovely money! Del I told you I could do it, didn't I, eh? Rodney Well done. There is general celebration, back-slapping, etc. Del Oi Rodney now careful what is your game? Boycie Well done Del. Del Thanks. Boycie Nicely played. (Hissing) Where d'you get those our bloody aces from? Del Same place you got them Kings! I knew you were cheating Boycie. Boycie Oh yeah, how? Del 'Cos that wasn't the hand I dealt you!
The first joke – Del has won despite it seeming like he hadn’t. The second, that he has cheated. The third, so had Boycie. And he still lost.
A Losing Streak has some other good comedy examples, such as the recurring joke (again, a subject for another day) but I think it’s the weaving of more than one joke per scene (as indeed does other Only Fools and Horses episodes) that helps make it better.
The second joke makes me think of reversals, something else to be written about, and the how reversals coupled with jokes is what makes a good comedy. But this post is already long enough as it is.
So let’s leave with a question for you – does the second joke count or is it a nice addition, but not essential, to comedy?