The Ultimate Guide to Being Funny: Humor’s Secret Formula.


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Word of advice: If you ever find yourself abducted by aliens such as myself, ask them the following:

Why did the chicken cross the road?

You see, most alien species have no sense of humor whatsoever. Ask them about a chicken’s inner feelings and they’ll resort to panic for not knowing the answer. Simply give them any reason as to why a chicken might cross a road and they’ll think you’re a smart being. It improves your chances of not being subjected to their sadistic testing methods.

...such as forcing humans to solve ths Sudoku. Yes, that's the Batman symbol.

…such as forcing humans to solve this Sudoku. Yes, that’s the Batman symbol.

Advanced alien races have discovered so much about the universe their sense of humor has no place in their lives. When too many agree on what reality entails humor disappears into a black hole.

When I crash landed near Roswell back in 1947 I didn’t have any sense of humor either. You humans taught me.

As a token of my appreciation I’d like to share my findings on the subject. Consider it a must read for any comedy writer.

Humor is a tricky thing. Consider the following example, which is a dialogue set in 1665 London, when the bubonic plague was on tour.

MAN1: Say, you don’t look too good. What’s up?
MAN2: I have gangrene, my lymph nodes are swollen and my skin is turning pink.
MAN1: Hm, those symptoms sound plaguely familiar.

Laughter: Not ALWAYS the best medicine...

Laughter: Not ALWAYS the best medicine…

See what I did there? I used an ancient killer disease and did a little wordplay. That’s funnyish!

Let’s do the same thing with a modern disease:

MAN1: Say, you don’t look too good. What’s up?
MAN2: The doctor says the cancer in my brain is now the size of a potato, so I asked him if he could mash it.
MAN1: Well, despite your impending death you certainly have a good sense of tumor.

Yeah, suddenly it’s not so funny anymore, is it? After all, most of you will have known someone who died from cancer. Last thing you need is the Roswell Alien making fun of that.

As you can see, whether something is funny depends on its sensitivity. Sensitivity in turn is expressed in the time it takes for something to go from being sensitive to being funny. Other factors are also at play:

– Who is involved? Is it a beloved celebrity, a random person or a hated figure? (X-factor, ranging from -50 to +50)
– How many people/subjects are involved? (N-factor)
– In what manner is the subject involved (positive or negative)?
– How relevant is the subject nowadays? (R-factor, ranging from -100 (not relevant) to 0 (completely relevant))
– What’s the level of agreement on transpired events? (A-factor, ranging from 0,1 (no consensus) to +50 (complete consensus))

Combining all of the above, I reached the following formula:

I know, it looks nerdy, but it’s easier than finding a date on Craigslist. Let me walk you through it, using the Kennedy Assassination as an example.

– T (YEARS) stands for the amount of years that need to pass before an event becomes funny.
 X stands for the X-factor.
 N stands for the number of people involved.
– +/- stands for the way the subject was involved.
– R stands for the Relevance factor.
– A stands for the Agreement factor. Why do we take the root of A? I don’t know. You tell me why the chicken crossed the road and I’ll tell you where agreement gets its roots.
– ∏ is Pi, arguably the most famous number of all. Why Pi? Because it looks sophisticated. Stop asking questions. This is all about having fun, remember!?

With this formula we can calculate when JFK became a safe target for those wanting to be funny:

– JFK was fairly popular, even doing Marilyn Monroe at some point. His X-factor is deemed to be +30.
– The Warren Commission believes only one person was involved in the JFK assassination. Hence N = 1.
– +/- becomes – as I think we can all agree it was not a good day to be doing Dallas.
– The Cold War is over. Vietnam is a tourist spot. Oliver Stone did a movie about the whole thing. Obviously no one cares about it anymore. Therefore R = -97.
– Some people believe the JFK assassination was a coup d’état of some sorts. Others believe communists were somehow involved. Let’s face it: we’ll never know what really happened. Therefore the A-factor is low, only 5.

Let’s work these numbers into our formula:

This means the Kennedy assassination got funny 8.78 years after he got shot, or around the same time the moon landings stopped being interesting.

Let’s do another one. In the year 79 A.D. about 30,000 people died when Mount Vesuvius had her period:

X-factor = 1 (We don’t give a crap about them, but they’re still people.)
N = 30,000
+/- becomes – for it is generally considered unpleasant to be buried under molten lava.
R-factor = -100 (Let’s face it: the Vesuvius eruption of 79 A.D. doesn’t affect you guys today.)
A-factor = 50 (We all agree Mount Vesuvius had a bad temper.)

That’s just over 48 years. Ergo the Vesuvius eruption became funny sometime in 127 A.D.

The Holocaust? Don’t joke about that, at least not until the year 21413 A.D.

Hitler’s death? That already became funny in 1941, four years before he actually died.

"These are mein kamfy pantz."

“These are mein kamfy pantz.”

Jesus on the cross? It was already funny before the Vesuvius erupted, people. Get over yourselves!



So there you have it. If you ever think of a joke and are in doubt as to whether it’s funny or not, simply use my humor formula.

You’re welcome.

In closing, let’s see if this article is funny yet.

That means this article will become funny by the year 2113.

Funny, I thought I was funnier than that.

Enjoy your journey, but beware of humor, for you may take it too seriously.