Mark Twain once famously said "Studying humor is like dissecting a frog--you may know a lot, but end up with a dead frog." With all due respects to Mr. Twain, wherever and whomever he may be, comedy is a difficult and tricky concept and we cannot expect just some guy like Mr. Twain to understand its delicate complexity. Comedy should be taught by a man who is accustomed to explaining complicated, difficult-to-grasp concepts. There's only one man I trust for that job: Science.
So, when I decided to try stand-up comedy for the first time, I knew I needed to attend a few classes at Science University. Luckily, I found three great scientific articles that dealt with dissecting, explaining and teaching comedy and humor. Once I applied the lessons taught in the following articles, there'd be no stopping me.
Science Explains the Gross-Out Comedy
My first lecture on How to Science Comedy came from a study conducted at The University of Colorado-Boulder on the subject of gross-out comedy, confirming my suspicion that everything has been discovered and no one knows what to do with grant money anymore.
The article starts off by reminding us that there are no absolutes, and comedy is indeed a tricky subject. At first it is explained that things that are "incongruous and release tension are funny," which seems straightforward. "But," Science points out, "unintentionally killing a loved one, while incongruous and an example of a release of aggressive tension, is unlikely to be funny." Good point, Science. I decided right then and there that I was no longer going to open my set by accidentally throwing a knife into my sister's heart.
This scientific article about comedy isn't just about inadvertently murdering your spouse; there's also some bestiality.
In the scenario where the cat whined and was uncomfortable, almost everyone was not amused. (If you take nothing else from the study, you should at least be able to appreciate how even in this jaded, cynical day and age, most people are still not comfortable with over-the-pants cat rape. That's a victory, right?) However, the participants were much more likely to laugh if the cat