The Serious Genius Behind Hilarious Comedy
If You Work in a Creative Industry, You Should Steal Other People’s Ideas
Just as Shakespeare lifted plots from his predecessors, young performers today ought to focus on emulating those artists they like most. That’s not to say plagiarism is excusable; it’s not. It just means that artists who are just getting started should seek to model themselves after those who have gone before.
Take it from John Cleese of Monty Python fame: “You say, ‘I’m going to write something completely new and original and very funny.’ You can’t do it. It’s like trying to fly a plane without having any lessons. You’ve got to start somewhere and the best way to start is by copying something that is really good.”
Ruby Wax on Neuroplasticity: “You’re the Architect of Your Own Brain”
Ruby Wax put her comedy career on hold a few years ago in order to research mental illness and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy at Oxford. It’s there that she first encountered neuroplasticity: the ability to rewire your brain just by changing the way you think. Wax, who sports a Master’s in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, now travels the world promoting mental health awareness and stigmatization. Her new book is titled “Sane New World.”
Jesus Was My Invisible Babysitter
In this personal narrative of the evolution of his faith, Ricky Gervais describes how and why he became an atheist.
The Most Valuable Skill that Nobody Teaches: How to Listen
Tom Yorton explains why listening is paramount to good business. The value of working toward excellent listening skills is one of the key lessons he’s learned from working as an executive at Second City. Yorton is co-author of a new book titled Yes, And: How Improvisation Reverses “No, But” Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration — Lessons from The Second City.
Stephen Fry’s Humor Was Lost on Salt Lake City
A Mormon tour guide did not appreciate his sly questions.
Making Fun of People Is Inclusive, but Only If It’s Funny
Whatever we’re most afraid to talk about, that’s where comedy should go, says famously outrageous (and outrageously funny) comedienne Lisa Lampanelli. We’re spending way too much time tiptoeing around each other for fear of causing offense, and it’s driving people and communities apart. Whatever makes us laugh brings us closer together.
Laughter: The Only Thing in Life That Will Save You From Looking Stupid
America has had biting social satire since at least the mid-’50s (Lenny Bruce). We’ve gone through many convulsions as a society, but we’re still (again) in the midst of racial anxiety and social upheaval (rich-poor gap, Donald Trump’s xenophobia). Ian Edwards’ comedy often deals with issues of social discomfort around race and identity. More than any other profession, stand-up comedy is about getting to the truth of who you are, and becoming at ease with that. Edwards discusses comedy not as one single thing but as several, distinct things. Comedy is an antidote to taking life too seriously — an equivalent to sex, and a way to safely express truths that aren’t politically correct.
Let’s Stop Giving Oscars to Actors Who Play the Disabled, and Start Letting the Disabled Play Themselves.
Outside of RJ Mitte, who played Walt Jr. on Breaking Bad, there are very few actors with disabilities who get the chance to tell their own stories on television. Actress and comedian Maysoon Zayid, who like Mitte was born with cerebral palsy, discusses her disability in this Big Think interview while also stressing the importance of positive media portrayals of people with disabilities. “When you do see disability on television,” she says, “we’re reduced to two storylines. Either ‘heal me’ or ‘you can’t love me because I’m disabled.'” Zayid hopes someday soon television will make a stronger commitment to actors with disabilities.
Onion Editor Joe Randazzo Reveals How to Write Concise, Funny Headlines That Avoid Rambling or Falling Flat
How The Onion keeps its front page funny.
We Can’t Have Comedy and Be Politically Correct at the Same Time
John Cleese says political correctness has gone too far, especially on America’s college campuses, where he will no longer go to perform. The very essence of his trade — comedy — is criticism and that not infrequently means hurt feelings. But protecting everyone from negative emotion all the time is not only impractical (one can’t control the feelings of another), but also improper in a free society. Cleese, having worked with psychiatrist Robin Skynner, says there may even be something more sinister behind the insistence to be always be politically correct.