January 30, 2017

What speakers can learn from comedians about language and rhythm



Comedians are some of the best teachers of language and rhythm. I've written more than 20 posts about comedians and what speakers can learn from them, and I'm constantly inspired by how creative they are with their words and delivery.

I recently came across this fantastic video that breaks down a Louis CK joke into its components and describes exactly how it's set up and what makes it funny. I agree with The Nerdwriter that Louis CK has a unique genius to his jokes, especially in how effortless and conversational they seem, while still incredibly structured.

The narrator mentions "riding a wave of feeling" at one point, and this is exactly what I teach my clients about taking their audiences on an emotional journey. Comedians' primary emotional tool is humor, but they get to humor through activating a host of other emotions: Anticipation, fear, frustration, confusion or empathy are contrasted with exaggeration, incongruous scenarios and surprise twists, leading to a humorous outcome.

Enjoy this short video, and I also suggest making time to watch the HBO special referenced within the video, "Talking Funny." More great discussion from the pros on how successful comedy works. I wrote about it here.



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