Hollywood comedy writer Jessica Glassberg investigates what makes us LOL.
By Jessica Glassberg | July 22, 2013
What is funny online?
Since the time that some caveman laughed at another caveman’s drawing of a third caveman with a penis coming out of his forehead and a fourth caveman grunted, “I don’t get it,” there has been analysis over what is funny. I could probably write a doctoral-worthy thesis in an attempt to explain the question, “What is comedy?” Yes, I did just tell a dick joke followed by the phrase “doctoral-worthy thesis.” For now, let’s concentrate on comedy on the web.
I conducted a super scientific experiment (I took a survey) where I analyzed the data (I asked over fifty people, ages 24-70, what they found funny online) and learned nothing.
Okay, that’s not true. I learned that almost each member of the 20s-40s crowd has a friend with a “must-see” YouTube channel and that many of the 50+ crowd still send or receive email forwards (some they deem worthy of an LOL while others are worthy of an eye-roll at best). And almost everyone loves funny pictures or videos involving animals. Specifically… pet owners be crazy! If there is a picture circulating the interwebs of the specific breed of their pet, forget about it. It will be on their Facebook page, they’ll Instagram it and start a blog dedicated to it.
Do cats rule the world (wide web)?
I think most of us know that cats have found the purrrrrfect home on the internet. But not every internet cat meme is for every internet community member.
Let me preface all of this with the understanding that I hate cats. (Blasphemy… I know) Not only am I allergic, but I think they are all hosts for demons. However, even I think the combo of puns and intelligence of Chemistry Cat make these memes pretty funny.
Then there’s Nyan Cat.
I still don’t get it and I grew up in the time of 8-bit video games. Is it supposed to be funny? I guess if I’m asking if it’s supposed to be funny, clearly to me, it isn’t. But there are people SOMEWHERE bringing the views to almost 100 MILLION. Eesh!
But while neither Chemistry nor Nyan Cat have yet to claw their way to movie deals, Grumpy Cat sure has. Ever since a picture of Grumpy Cat appeared on reddit.com, the frowning feline has acquired over 130,000 subscribers to her YouTube page and was voted Meme of the Year at the 2013 Webby Awards among numerous other accolades. This is another one I just don’t “get.” But clearly I am in the minority on this one. I mean, I guess it’s… umm… interesting? But that’s also how I would describe a friend’s one-man show about his inner child that I may or may not nap through.
And while we’re on the subject, maybe you can explain to me the whole “I Can Has CHEEZburger” phenomenon.
Is there a difference between cute and funny?
We can all agree that there is a difference between cute and funny, right?
I saw this baby video and thought, “Aw adorable,” and continued on with my life. But two of the members of the 50+ crowd called it, “Hilarious.” Hilarious is a strong word in the world of comedy. Mel Brooks… hilarious. That guy you saw do stand up for the first time at an open mic… most likely not hilarious.
But who’s right? I guess it’s more apt to say that no one is wrong. To me, the video was cute. I watched it once. To someone else, he may have watched it 25 times, shared it with his online community and literally ROTFL. (NOTE: I have yet to actually watch something, ANYTHING, that has made me not only fall to the floor with laughter, but roll upon it.)
There has to be a reason that the video has almost 85 million views, right? Comedy is subjective. Just like some people might not find Mel Brooks funny at all (they are of course wrong) and the open mic-er’s mom thinks the comedy newbie is positively hilarious, so too will the internet run the gambit on “funny.”
Is online comedy timeless?
I suppose, it is only time which will tell. Though I can’t imagine a time when this wouldn’t be funny. However, so much online content is “old” days after it is created. How many of us were sick of all of the Harlem Shake videos the day after they started popping up online?
Or what about this. Remember that baby? Was it ever funny? Creepy for sure. But at one time, someone thought it was funny… the writers of Ally McBeal certainly did.
Where can you find the funny?
Many people rely on Reddit.com, FunnyOrDie.com, TheOnion.com, buzzfeed.com, deadspin.com, jezebel.com, YouTube.com or following their favorite comedians on Twitter.com or instagram.com. Check ‘em out and bookmark the sites you want to return to.
Can comedy transcend all platforms?
The short answer… No.
Sure, you would condense your 1200 word blog to 4 pt font and make it an Instagram photo that no one will be able to read. And while you could distribute it piece meal via twitter, most people wouldn’t. However, can a tweet act as a facebook update? Sure. Here’s one I used in both places:
Started feeding my daughter bananas. Mostly so when I change her diaper I get to say, “This sh*t is bananas…b-a-n-a-n-a-s”
It saw a lot more Facebook interaction than Twitter. Can you promote a funny blog on Twitter or Instagram? Certainly. And for Instagram, if the blog has a particularly funny picture to accompany it, that would be a perfect pairing.
What about YouTube? You’re probably not going to read your analysis of online comedy blog into a camera on YouTube. You could. No one will stop you. Or watch it.
Just like most stand-up comedy online doesn’t have you LOLing the same way it does in a comedy club, each form of online content has its proper place.
So once you accumulate all of this funny content on the various platforms of your choosing, what do you do with it? WordPress is a great place to be a home for all of your online content where you can share it out to the appropriate platforms.
Plus, WordPress showcases some of the most interesting (and not in the bad one-man show kind of way) and popular comedy blogs which have all been created on WordPress: Stephen Fry’s on there! Okay, yes my two references of whom I find hilarious were Mel Brooks and Stephen Fry. Believe it or not I am in the 20s-40s category and not the 50+. Don’t judge, any comedy can truly appeal to anyone.
Now I want to know… what is the funniest thing YOU’VE found online? Where are your go-to places for funny content?
To learn more about the author visit jessicaglassberg.com and follow her on twitter @JGlassberg.
Jessica Glassberg has written for The Screen Actors Guild Awards, Disney, and, for ten years, was the head writer of the 21-hour, Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon where she also performed five times. Additionally, “The History of the Joke with Lewis Black” on the History Channel featured Jessica’s comedic stylings and she currently produces and hosts a standup comedy showcase, “Laugh Drink Repeat,” and is a contributing writer for Kveller.com.