When inquired about an occupation that has the most insight on human behaviour and human nature, one would assume it would be teaching, as it requires shaping and developing a lot of young minds.
However, it is a comedian who has a much deeper insight into human behaviour, as he(or she) has to make the audience laugh and yet ensure that the comfort barrier isn’t broken. It requires a great deal of insight into the immediate reaction that a live audience is going to have.
In his book Rhetoric, Aristotle has analyzed what a joke is: Creating an expectation and then breaking it.
“What’s the best thing about Switzerland?”
“I don’t know, but the flag’s a big plus.”
This joke builds an expectation in the first sentence (Chocolates? Watches?) but breaks it in the second, and after a confusing pause, we see that the answer does make sense: The Swiss flag has a big plus sign.
Psychologists and comedians are working in a similar fashion: They observe the world and test a new hypothesis (raw joke matter) on how people see it. They run experiments on individuals and groups that confirm or deny their new theories or jokes.
Both rely on the feedback of the colleagues, scholars or the audience to shape their experimental jokes or theories.
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