I started off my monthly blog series back last November with a photo of the character, Larry Donner, in the 1987 movie Throw Momma from the Train. The character of Larry was wonderfully played by comedian Billy Crystal, a man famous not only as an actor and comedian, but also as nine-time host of the Academy Awards.
A few days ago my husband and I were fortunate to attend one of his live shows here in Auckland – the first time Billy’s ever performed in New Zealand. The format of the evening, done in interview style, was a retrospective of Billy’s life and work, recounting his rise to fame and special times with some of his celebrity friends. It was a fabulous evening, rich with interesting anecdotes and the quick and brilliant wit of a very funny man.
At the same time I’ve also been watching some online tutorials about writing and the current one I’m watching is about the subject of humour. The tutor, filling in for a guest of the regular lecturer, quotes Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame). Adams has developed what he calls “The Humor Diversification Rule” which basically says that there are six dimensions of humour:
His observation is that you have to use at least two of these dimensions for people to recognise the humour in what has been said. As a writer it is always fascinating to learn new techniques and to be introduced to concepts you’d never heard of before. I’d never thought to deeply ponder why some things are funny (and some people enjoy them more than others) and why some things are not.
Wherever the truth behind it lies, I do know one thing: I’m extremely grateful for humour. It can not only amuse but diffuse, getting rid of tension and stress and often putting our light and momentary troubles into their proper perspective. In biblical parlance, “A merry heart does good like a medicine.”
So thanks, Billy, for a great evening!