Unrealistic Humor

In show business, the key word is honesty. And once you've learned to fake that, you're in. —George Burns

Many believe that failed humor is most often the result of too much exaggeration. That isn't true. Most often it results from too little realism.

Here are a few simple examples of humor that's unrealistic. It doesn't mean they're not funny. It does mean they have to work harder (through performance) than those that are realistic. The following anecdote works realism too hard:

Tommy came home from school very dejected. "I had an awful day," he told his mother. "I couldn't remember an answer and it was embarrassing." "Forgetting one answer is nothing to be embarrassed about," soothed his mother. And the boy said, "During roll call?" —Dick Shebelski

Here's the same structure that could have happened, at least to a college student:

"They threw me out of my hotel in Fort Lauderdale this spring break for pissing in the pool."

"How could they do that? Lots of kids piss in the pool." "From the fourteenth floor?"


The bushman remarked, "I'd like to get a new boomerang, but I can't get rid of the old one."


Even my daughter doesn't give me any respect. I put her to bed and tried to kiss her and she said, "Not tonight, Daddy, I've got a terrible headache." —Rodney Dangerfield

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