Chapter 5

Rating Comedy

 

I am going to show  how to evaluate humor by using a calculator. When you go into a store they will evaluate all of the items in your  basket and give you a total value of all items in the basket. Now with the following information you can also go through a movie, comedy routine, or a book, and rate the value of its contents. When we finish with this, you will be able to take any content to your accountant, and predict how well it will be received by the audience. As you may have noticed, most accountants have no sense of humor. When accountants use our measuring stick and compare the numbers, it's even obvious to an accountant to what is humorous, and what is not.

 

In order to do this we need to dissect the content. Do you remember the last time you dissected something? It died. When we dissect content it will also die, but you will also learn to resurrect it. Let’s take a joke that is already on life support. Let’s start off with a joke that everyone knows.

         

          Why did the chicken cross the road?

         

Use whatever answer you wish as we discuss the following ideas.

 

TARGET

 

Who is the target?  Who is the joke aimed at?  Target decide what person, place, action, thing, idea or activity is being shot at? One to ten. If we have a target that the audience doesn’t care about then the Target is a one, if the target is someone or something that the audience cares about greatly, then the Target  goes to a ten. Most people really don’t care about chickens crossing the road, so the chicken as a target gets a two.. If you said a bird crossed the road, then it would rates as a 1. If you said rooster then this would rate as a three. The more defined the Target is and the higher your emotional connection is with the Target the higher it will rate.

 

Target (what you are shooting) at is based on how clear is the image in the mind of your audience. (PROBABLY IN REALITY) Does this target seem real in the mind of the audience?

 

Target decide what person, place, action, thing, idea or activity is being shot at? One to ten. Target (what you are shooting) at is based on how clear is the image in the mind of your audience.

 

HOSTILITY/CONFLICT

 

Now let’s do hostility. Is there hostile intent in this Joke? How severe is the attack on the target? The chicken is crossing the road. Here the chicken has the potential to put its life on the line, but at this point there is nothing really putting the chickens life in danger. If we were to be asking why did the chicken get put into the woodchipper, we would have a joke with a hostility rating of eight. If you ask "Why did the chicken jump into the woodchipper?" An even higher rating.  Good vs Evil is the highest.

If a movie averages humorous (punch lines) every five minutes or less then move on to conflict. How strong is the conflict? Ten being violent conflict, one being a complete lack of care between the characters. The highest number would be good against evil, the lowest number would be no conflict at all because the audience wouldn’t even care.

On a scale from one to ten, what is the hostility of the joke? No one really cares much about the chicken, so there really isn’t much conflict. The joke is at a one or a two because no one cares about the chicken crossing the road. If you can create conflict as in a chicken gun (used to propel birds at a windshield to test glass strength) then the rating of the hostility would go up.

 

REALITY

 

Does the Humor fit the reality of the audience. Here we are looking for the audience to be able to identify with whatever is going on in the story to be clear and distinct.  We are painting a mental picture of a chicken in the mind of the audience. In Humor, reality has nothing to do with truth, the only thing that matters is what your audience believes is true.

Is the chicken crossing the road within the realm of reality? A person living out in the country will understand that a chicken may cross the road for any reason.

 

In reality how would you rate the chicken crossing the road. Is it realistic that you would ever find a chicken crossing the road. This is probably for most people an eight. The more you can change the joke to fit the reality of the audience the higher it will rate.

 

EXAGGERATION

 

What is the exaggeration in this joke? Have you exaggerated anything. You have probably exaggerated the idea that anyone would ever spend time thinking about a chicken crossing the road. That is the only exaggeration of the joke. A weak exaggeration is to get some food. A strong exaggeration would be to go to a poultry convention.

 

Exaggeration can give you a higher score unless you go too high then it starts taking away from the value.  Exaggeration counts against you, when you go too far beyond Reality or perception of reality.

 

EMOTION

 

How emotional is the chicken crossing the road. Unless it gets hit by a semi, loses a lover or gets inspired to break a world record, there isn’t much emotion in the joke. If the chicken is just crossing the road there is no emotion. If there is joy in the chicken coming out of the egg, or sorrow for the funeral of the dead chicken, then the joke will rate higher.

 

SURPRISE

 

How surprised are you that the chicken crossed the road? ...not very.  How surprised are you if it gets hit by a car??... still not very. How surprised are you if it is to get on a spaceship??? ...more surprised. The more surprising the punch line the higher the joke will rate.

 

THE  TOTAL

 

If lacking any one of these threes cross it off and move

 

On a scale from one to ten, a pie in the face might be a two, slipping on a banana peel a three. A chainsaw is a ten (which by the way took first place on America’s funniest home video). You add the other items together, and you can predict the power of any piece of comedy.

 

TIMING

 

If there is humor or a punch line every five seconds, then move ahead. If the humor is more than five minutes apart don’t bother rating it for humor. There seems to be a good chance that the formula works on every type of entertainment but I won't go there it’s too distracting.

 

In a ninety minute comedy, the movie will have forty to one hundred punch lines. Unless it is "Joe Dirt" then there are 2000 punch lines (I stopped counting at 2000). We make marks for every punch line in the movie then we rate every joke in the movie.  If there are more than a few jokes every minute, then scoring the movie will be difficult, but if the jokes are good that use all of the six elements of content then the movie will be a success. There are two scores: One for each punch line of the Threes Formula in the movie. Then a total score for all the punch lines in the movie.

 

Test it out. See how the lower the score predicts the poorer it will do at the box office.

 

I have taken ten jokes and given them to ten different people, and gotten a one rating from one and a ninety five percent from another on the same joke. But if they all use the six elements of conte  to rate the joke, then they will come up with the same score. My formula is based on math and the scientific method, and is not subjected to subjectivity.

 

If you tell the joke with the wrong persona (Shtick, caricature, personality) its punch (power) can drop to less than five percent. Tell it to the wrong audience or at the wrong time, wrong place, or wrong way. It can fall to zero effect.

 

The most lame, silly, dumb, or slapstick routine can cause a record high volumes of laughter or unbelievable amounts of pain and grief. For example, the right audience the right time and the right person saying it right. Rodeo clown being chased by a bull or a Nazi prison guard pointing the entrance of the camp and saying you go in through the gate and exit through the chimney."

The demand for humorous entertainment is huge and is growing more every day. Billions of dollars are spent on humor every year and much of it wasted on humor that does not work. Yet entertainment is less than two percent of humors potential power. Humor’s power to hurt, heal, enlighten, inform, distract, teach; is more than ten times its power to entertain.

 

Words like ridicule may be too strong and words like kidding, teasing, joking, witty may not be broad enough to fit all cases. The most vicious sarcasm to the silliest slapstick, is all humor.

 

If you’re ever wrong, its because there is still a joker somewhere in the deck of humor cards and it’s only a matter of time before it's found. A professional cartoonist and myself reviewed cartoons going back over fifty years. Every cartoon that was accepted had ratings of over sixty. Then the joker (anomaly)! A cartoon that rated over eighty, and it was turned down by publicists over and over. The joker in the deck turned out to be that the cartoon was making fun of the people that they were trying to sell the cartoon to.

 

Boy friend in a box. (cartoon) Kathy Griffin tried to sell the idea of how a boyfriend could be replaced with items in a box to Hallmark. Hallmark is selling romance so they turned her down. She sold this on her own.

 

On a radio show they asked people to submit jokes on their website. Hundreds of thousands of people then rated what they thought the best joke was. The joke that got the best rating was…

 

Two best friends were out hunting, and one was accidently shot.  The other hunter called 911, and told the operator that he had shot and killed his best friend. He asked the lady on the line “What should I do?” She responded “Well, first you need to make sure that he is dead.” There was a pause, and after another gun shot the hunter came back on the phone line and said “yes”.

 

The impact of this joke is very low. You can make it more intense by using someone famous like Dick Cheney, especially after he shot his friend while hunting. This would make the joke more into the realm of reality. The more that you can connect the joke to a current event that people are aware of, the more effective the humor will be.

 

A science can only be called thus when it is mathematically systemized. This has been tried with humor and failed. Failed because the word humor meant anything the person using it chooses it to mean. Break humor down into wit, mirth, and comedy, and then can be mathematically systemized.

 

I rated the movie Wild Hogs. I gave it 90 out of a possible 100. I thought I must have done something wrong, that movie was so dumb. I was thinking it shouldn’t be getting nine hundred out of a possible thousand points. So I watched the movie the second time, and gave it even a higher rating. When the silly dumb movie passed the three hundred million dollar mark. I started using my rating system on more humors movies. There were some wonderful pieces of comedy I gave low ratings. (Using my system) I was surprised how low they rated; making me think there was something wrong with my system. But to my surprise they turned out to be box office losers even though it seemed to be a wonderful movie. There were others I felt were terrible movies and rated high.. and they became box office winners. 

 

I have come to believe comedy is like dog food, the worse I think it smells the better it sells.  This is because dog food manufactures have a formula on how a dog will respond to food. This food is formulated for dogs, not for humans.

 

The demand for humor is growing at the same rate as cell phones are becoming smart. In just the last ten years the movies, stand up, and sitcoms have gone from fifteen seconds average between punch lines, down to five seconds. I’ve counted over two hundred punch lines in one twenty three minute sitcom. I estimate the ratio of humor for entertainment is ninety five percent entertainment, five percent other.

 

You add all the numbers to gather and you can tell who will laugh (men, women, children or all the above) how loud they will laugh, what kind of laugh (there are over one hundred different kinds of laughs), how long they will laugh etc. Comedy is subjective when we try to predict its effect on the listener. But the subjective of the listener can be determined by formula and math.

 

POWER NUMBERS

One person in a scene has the power of one.

Two people in a scene has the potential power of ten.

Three people in a scene has the potential power of one hundred.  

Four people in a scene has less potential power than one.

Five has less power than four.

Six people less than none.

Seven main caricatures are the max in sitcoms, comic strips, plays etc. Seven total. Three at a time.

 

 

COMEDIC SHEETS

 

Every piece of comedy has its own rhythm. Just as in a piece of sheet music. It has a pattern, a time for pauses, a time to go faster or slower, and every piece of comedy has different tonal differences. I have discovered that you can take any piece of comedy, and set it as you would a song in sheet music. I can take a perfect comedic delivery and write a piece of sheet music for it. Any comedian, that knows how to read the sheets will be able to read the joke and perfectly execute it. We will be discussing this in further books. The same recipe can be used for motivational speakers, recording artists, spiritual leaders, politicians, activists, yoga classes, meditation classes, teachers, and general riots.  Anyone that follows the score will become the best.

More information on how to write sheet music will be in further books. If you are burning to know this information, please contact for personal sessions and workshops.