The West

Our Approach to Humorology

Our humorologists’ approach to humoronomy focuses on Comic Isolation; i.e. the distillation of a comic premise to its most basic, irreducible components and analyzing why, exactly, it all is funny. Our approach to a joke begins with a Set-Up, in which the rules for the world of the joke are created; the Pivot, the introduction of an irregular event to the joke’s narrative; and the Punchline, often a reaction to the pivot or a recontextualization of the joke’s premise itself given the information supplied in the Pivot. The inherently strict scientific rigor of these rules implies strong support for a side-theory of ours: that comedy oftentimes is actually math.

On a macroscopic level, the jokes form a larger structure for a sketch or short film, in which longer comic situations operate less like scaling a mountain and more like plotting a sine wave, in that the comic action continuously rises and falls. The timing of a joke itself thus can be stretched or compressed or repeated with variation. This Joke Dilation occurs in many of our sketches. It has four principles:

1. Comedy without jokes

Not a single joke is uttered. The text reads without a hint of ironic sentiment or satirical intent. The only jokes are physical or simply suggested, which we feel is compounded by the fact that the text makes no reference to them.

2. Variations on a theme

Like a musical composition, repetition and reframing of a concept is explored. Our sketch “Bronzing” sees the character of Peter being exactly as annoying to Geoffrey in multiple locations and circumstances. As each successive opus expands and essentializes established ideas, so too can comedy spring forth from a fountain of possibilities.

3. Beginning at the end

“Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup.” The ending point of one sketch becomes the beginning of another, and the reality of the situation, now incorporating a fly in the soup, must carry on and abide by the established rules. Jokes are malleable and can be observed at any point and either improved or moved in a different direction.

4. Sustainability

How long is a joke?… a line, a page, a lifetime? In the interest of expanding the standard definition, we have a long-form sketch titled “Three Englishmen in Two Canoes.” A premise that should only be sustainable for two or three minutes is stretched like animal skin across the cylindrical shell of a comedy drum and struck with the hammer of humor.