What’s funny? How comedians translate humor.

When it comes to making others laugh, you have to help them observe an absurd fact of life with you.

  • When you're trying to write something funny, it has to be an idea that first strikes you, personally, as funny.
  • The reason for this is that, then, it's something you're genuinely amused by. When this is so, it's based on observation of an experience that others may relate to.
  • The next step, after this, is to try to translate it for others to understand. Sometimes you can't reword it perfectly for others to appreciate because the words themselves carry different notes of meaning to you. Nevertheless, the aim is to try to keep your audience's jargon, their palette of words, in mind.

Great moments in marijuana history are being revealed

David Bienenstock has made it his mission to keep the history of cannabis alive.

Photo courtesy of the author
  • Cannabis journalists David Bienenstock and Abdullah Saeed launched Great Moments in Weed History to share the history of marijuana.
  • They cover hilarious and amazing weed tales about Willie Nelson. Louis Armstrong, Barack Obama, and Fela Kuti.
  • In this interview with Big Think, Bienenstock says it's essential to keep the history of marijuana alive in the corporatized age.
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Jeannie Gaffigan: Finding comedy in a brain tumor

Here's how a pear-sized tumor on Jeannie Gaffigan's brain stem became an unexpected comedy gold mine.

  • It was only by chance that Jeannie Gaffigan found out she had a pear-sized tumor on her brain stem. During a visit to her kid's pediatrician, the doctor noticed something off about Jeannie Gaffigan's hearing, which led to the diagnosis.
  • She needed to have immediate brain surgery. Gaffigan describes this highly stressful and uncertain time in her as traumatic—and deeply hilarious, says Gaffigan. Comedy, she says, can be used to process your traumas.
  • A comedy writer by trade, she obsessively documented the experience and asked people who visited her in hospital to make notes and lists, which she later turned into her memoir When Life Gives You Pears.
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How Pete Holmes creates comedic flow: Try micro-visualization

Setting a simple intention and coming prepared can help you — and those around you — win big.

  • Setting an intention doesn't have to be complicated, and it can make a great difference when you're hoping for a specific outcome.
  • When comedian Pete Holmes is preparing to record an episode of his podcast, "You Made it Weird with Pete Holmes," he takes 15 seconds to check in with himself. This way, he's primed with his own material and can help guests feel safe and comfortable to share theirs, as well.
  • Taking time to visualize your goal for whatever you've set out to do can help you, your colleagues, and your projects succeed.
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How to suffer like a total pro: Pete Holmes on ego, judgment, and feeling special

Suffering can buffer us, and make us more polished versions of ourselves — if we have the right attitude.

  • When you're going through a moment that tests your patience, even causes you to psychologically suffer, sometimes you have to step back and say, "Yes, thank you."
  • Suffering is like sandpaper, and, if we choose, it can buffer us and make us better versions of ourselves.
  • Also, it's critical to find a quiet place within where just the fundamental fact that you are participating in reality imbues you with enough value and dignity to draw upon at any moment. Regardless of exterior sentiments about you.
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