AMATEUR THEORY – Comedy is Synonyms


Alright, so comedy is more than just wordplay. In fact, my other amateur formulation of the hahas is that comedy is insight phrased in unexpected ways. But that’s a postulate for a different post, ya dig? Today I want to delve into something that I’ve seen come up time and time again.

Comedy is synonyms. 


Don’t eviscerate me for saying that name. First of all, I don’t get why Dane Cook gets all kind of hate, or called a hack, or a failure. The man consistently sold out STADIUMS, people. If that’s not success, wuddafuq are YOU trying to do with your career? 

I bring ol’ Dane up because it was back in his heyday that I started to notice this phenomenon. Dane Cook would have bits where I would be spitting laughing. Falling out of my chair. But all he was doing was taking his punchline and rephrasing it. Sometimes just once. Sometimes in a couple ways. But he was taking the exact same idea and literally repeating it, and the laughs just kept getting bigger. 


I think it boils down to novelty. When you hear a punchline, it tends to hit because its unexpected. Now, comedians work INSANELY hard on the wording of their bits. They can spend hours and days retooling their language. So when they hit on that first punchline, those words are very deliberately chosen. 

But the human language is a funny fuckin’ thing. Some words sound funnier than others. I’ve heard of ‘Comedy Ks’ in particular, but letters like P and Q have a similar effect. Wikipedia even has a page of Inherently Funny Words


So you’ve got your punchline, but maybe the insight works best without the funny words. That’d be ‘putting a hat on a hat’ as it were. So you say it once: 

…so I ate the green beans in the boat. 

but you want to emphasize, so you reiterate it:

…I was literally chewing on a bagful of verdant veggies

Then you carry on a bit, but want to circle back:

…which is why I was munching on those fuckin legumes on the pontoon

These punch lines are by no means perfect (or even good), but hopefully you’re starting to get the idea.


It turns out this whole thing was hard to formulate without a particular joke in mind, but it’s something to keep an eye out for. Next time you’re listening to standup or even just getting a laugh, try to see if this synonymous phenomenon is at play. For me, it’s all just a part of an ongoing effort to figure out WTF is going on in the strange world of comedy. 

What’s your amateur comedy theory?

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