How do you produce original jokes? God only knows. Most of my better jokes happen because I see a thing, a random thought pops into my head, and I recognize that thought as a funny idea. Then I write and extrapolate that idea in whatever context comes to mind. I was talking with a friend about communion wafers while eating Oreo’s, and I came up with the term “double-stuff communion wafer,” which I recognized as a funny thought, and worked it into a bit about a very laid back church.
But how do you even have thoughts? Your brain works on physics. It processes, stores and accesses information through chemical, electrical, and structural signals. We can’t access information we don’t have, which brings up a dilemma: do we have free will? And the answer is probably not. Our senses take in data from the moment we’re conceived, and the more different stimuli we take in, the more choice we have. However, we make choices based on all our previous experiences, so ultimately we were probably destined to make that “choice.” That’s where a concept like “privilege” comes from. That from a young age, some people get to observe and be taught behaviors that give them a head start on the less-privileged. People who have a lot of money have habits that lend towards having money. Not only does a rich person’s child have access to these ideas, but also to a social group of monied people that wealth brings access to. There are plenty examples of people rising from poverty to the upper class, but it’s much rarer than children born into the upper class simply remaining there.
Every person is unique because our behaviors are a composite of every human being we’ve ever seen. It’s true because it sorta rhymes! That’s how we figure out what to do. That’s why they have those warnings on tv: don’t try this at home. Because our brains have to conciously decipher that we’re probably not from Krypton, and the yellow sun doesn’t allow us to fly out of our 3rd story windows. We take the behaviours we like, try not to do the behaviors we don’t like, and go from there. I think that’s the value I see in comedy. The ability to say something and influence people on a large scale.
What does this have to do with jokes? It’s hard to come up with new jokes, if you’re not having new stimuli. It’s hard to have new and original thoughts if you do the same routine everyday. If all you do is comedy, it will only be relateable to comedians. People talk about how incredible it is that Louis CK comes up with a new hour each year, especially as a single dad with two kids. And it is incredible, he’s amazing. But that’s also what 70% of his material is about: being a single dad with two kids. He has a life aside from comedy. And I think that’s something I might need to work on more: giving myself a break and doing a few more things that aren’t just joke-related.