Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tragedy, Comedy, and Me

These are two topics normally thought of as opposites, but actually it depends on the severity. A recent study in the journal Psychological Science claims that the violation of a moral standard is humorous if it is perceived as harmless, hypothetically, involving unfamiliar people to the listener. This explains why when two writers for the well known comedy site College Humor, Amir and Streeter, began a prank war, it was hilarious.

It started 3 years ago with Streeter simply splicing of disturbing audio into a friends music. The friendly contest continued with a fake blind date by Amir and then a fake audition by Streeter. Then all war broke out. First, Amir went on stage at the UCB (been there) before Streeter does stand up and tells the audience not to laugh. It's brutal. As revenge, Amir was contacted to fly to LA and be on Human Giant, a now canceled series on MTV. It turned out to be fake. Amir cried.

If that wasn't bad enough, next was a fake marriage proposal on the Yankee's Jumbotron, Streeter gets slapped by his girlfriend who apparently said yes. After that Amir is convinced he made a blindfolded half-court basketball shot for half a million dollars. And finally, the most recent part of the prank war is when Steeter is convinced that his parachute isn't going to open on his tandem skydiving jump. Convincing someone they are going to die, hard to top that.

So it seems gentle and absurd tragedy are both funny. It's the middle ground, when people aren't sure if you're kidding that makes them uncomfortable. Speaking of a variety of comedy, check out the Dirty South Improv Theater this Friday as the stars align and I'll performing in every show. Here's the schedule:

7:30pm - Harold Night: featuring Au Jus, my team The 708 and the new team (coached by me)
9:30pm - Best Show Ever: featuring Maximum Power and my two person team Pound For Pound
10:30pm - Mister Diplomat: featuring improv inspired by true stories from local celebrities

Want to learn more about comedy first hand, take my class!


  1. I'm %100 sure that the prank war itself is a joke. I was there that night at UCB, in fact I performed on that show. They were both in on it. Nobody thought it was funny and quite frankly it pretty much ruined the show. Think about it. He fell over during the shot? When the blindfold comes off the ball is 30 feet to the left of the basket and there is no way he didn't see that. Also, do you think the dude's girlfriend would slap him like that during the baseball game prank? Is that the natural reaction? The only prank that I thought was real was the Sky Diving prank.

  2. Bummer. Thanks for the NYC comedy scene information. And I was wondering what you could possibly do after that happened, real or not.


You are the reason why I do not write privately. I would love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree or not.