Some thoughts on fixed mindsets in the humor world
Great perspective. For my classes, I made a handout titled “I’m Not Funny” about how you absolutely can and should develop your sense of humor. The undergrads love it, while grad students need a little more to crack the calcified elf-hatred.
It’s a sadly common opinion (that somehow skipped Greg Gutfeld). I suppose it comes from bombing before family/friends/attractive people early on, and then fleeing that sensation at top speed. Along with a handful of stereotypes about which groups the gods have blessed with punchlines. It gets dumb.
Hopefully your story opens a few minds.
100%. sure, some people are naturally quicker to think of a sarcastic comment than others but if comedy couldnt be taught, shaped, and refined, UCB would not have been able to charge $525 a class to teach "The Game of the Scene," etc. its a muscle just like any other brain skill. Ben Schwartz said this very well on an old podcast, about how when he started submitting to Weekend Update it would take him 6 hours to write 10 jokes, then after a few months of working on it every day, 3 hours, 1 hour, etc.
Your post reminds me of thoughts I had at my daughter's recent college graduation. She majored in molecular biology, and she was surrounded by other women majoring in molecular biology. Far more women than men. And the honors were awarded almost exclusively to women. Yet when I was growing up it was taken as a given that boys were better at science than girls. Truly--like, the sky is blue and boys are better than girls at science. At the time science would get hard at certain points in time for everyone, but the ever-present message for girls was that it was hard because they were constitutionally bad at it, so what was the point of trying? And many of them stopped thinking of science as an option for their future. Whereas boys believed they could do it if they kept working, and many more boys continued pursuing the sciences. The background message has changed now, thank goodness; many more girls believe that they can succeed if they put the work in (though, as with humor, some have more ease with it than others), and there's been a sea change in the gender balance. (Thank you for this opportunity to air these only tangentially related thoughts that have been building up inside of me.)
Hi Julie! What a timely piece for me. I started the Writing Satire for the Internet course at Second City this week. It's a game changer (as I was told it would be). Week one is about POV and, truthfully, it's like I was humor-blind and now I can see (if only a little bit). I mean, I'm doing something called "generative work" in an invention called a "notebook" with a device they call "a pen" with my actual hand! I've clustered the hell out of a topic and I'm now on the List of 10 which might keep me up tonight. But that's okay. I'm learning. So, yes, thank you for the encouragement and insight. And look out for me in your next Lounge Writer's class:)