Humour Media

Clips lead to commissions

Savvy publication on the internet has led to another success.

Following on from the story of how the Ultimate Dog Tease has gone from YouTube to Hollywood, Irish comedy group The Rubberbandits have been picked up by Channel 4 to star in a 30-minute pilot.


Talking pet goes from YouTube to Hollywood

Taking a killer idea and sticking to it has its rewards it seems. YouTube user klaatu42 takes videos of his pets and either they can speak English or else he overdubs them in a very clever way. Either way the result is funny – check out the “Ultimate Dog Tease” below.


Only fools and sitcoms

Can you help discover why some sitcoms are funnier than others?

In a previous post I wrote about my reasons why some sitcoms are funnier than others and developed a theory to test – that the best comedies have more laughs per page and more reversals overall.

Every theory needs a test and I’m testing it on the top five British Sitcoms as voted for in 2004, not to find ‘the best’ comedy but to find which episodes are the greatest.

Yet to test it I need your help. I need you to read the scripts, count the funnies and reversals and enter them into the database below. I’ll let you know the results when they’re in – subscribe and follow me on Twitter to do so.


Quantifying comedy and the science of sitcoms

Comedy, like politics and religion, can be a big joke, or no laughing matter, depending on your point of view. And like political and religious views, it’s near impossible to convert doubters that your chosen path is the true one.

Knowing what makes a comedy ‘good’ is a dark art – you may have seen the Importance of Being Earnest more times than a maiden aunt but your favourite comedy is American Pie.

Likewise you love Monty Python’s Life of Brian as the greatest comedy ever made but find the troupe’sThe Meaning of Life turgid, yet both are rated as four out of five stars on IMDB.

What then makes a comedy great – how can a writer know what they write is funny, how can you argue your favourite comedy is ‘the best’ when another swears that you’re wrong?


The second joke

A fart joke that makes you think.

The concept

It’s not often I say those words but 5 Second Films, the high concept comedy troupe who came up with 5sf Joke Pitch #734, did so with this sketch.

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.

For example from Only Fools and Horses – A Losing Streak, courtesy of


                                          Leave it out will you Del,
                                          you've only got two pairs.

                                          No, no, Trigger. It's alright,
                                          let Del have his little
                                          moment, come on Del let's see
                                          your two pairs.

                                                  (Laying two cards
                                                   onto the table)
                                          I've got one pair of aces.


                                          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.

                                          That's four aces!!

                                          I didn't know that you were
                                          good at Maths either Boycie.

                                          Four aces! I ain't never seen
                                          it before!

                                          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!

                                          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.

                                          Oh look at all that lovely

                                          I told you I could do it,
                                          didn't I, eh?

                                          Well done.

                               There is general celebration, back-slapping, etc.

                                          Oi Rodney now careful what is
                                          your game?

                                          Well done Del.


                                          Nicely played.
                                          Where d'you get those our
                                          bloody aces from?

                                          Same place you got them Kings!
                                          I knew you were cheating

                                          Oh yeah, how?

                                          '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?