Heard the ones about good comedians and behavioural economics?
Rory Sutherland examines the link between behavioural economics and humour, observing what the best marketing ideas have in common with jokes: they don't stand up to rational analysis
This past week I have been reading How I Escaped My Certain Fate by the fascinating and innovative stand-up comedian Stewart Lee. The book – a kind of autobiography – is extremely funny, but it is also remarkable in another way.
Perhaps more than any other art form, it has become axiomatic in comedy that ‘you can't analyse humour’. A joke is believed to be a living thing – so ‘once you dissect one, it dies’. Yet almost every page of Stewart Lee's book contradicts this. Just because the audience shouldn't over-analyse jokes, that doesn't mean that comedians can't.