The Gentle Cemetery

About the tattood arm of Lenny Bruce

Updated: 22nd April 2022

I'm a massive geek about comedy. Not only enjoying it but wanting to understand it, learn about it, etc. I've read books, listened to innumerable podcasts, and if you do that for long enough you a) discover a load of interesting stuff, and b) start having a few idea of your own.

I guess the big question for me is: What makes things funny?.

So that's what you've got here. Partly reference material and links to things I've found and learned from along the way, and partly a loose collection of ideas that (disclaimer) I'm not claiming are new or original, but have nevertheless been swimming around in my head for long enough that I felt like I wanted to get them out.

Most of those ideas are inspired by Benign Violation Theory, thinking about it and how it applies to the comedy I like etc. If you haven't heard of it, it's a good idea to go and read about it as it forms the bedrock for a lot of the ideas I've written about here. There is quite a body of academic research about it, very little of which I've read, but you can get the gist from this page or Peter McGraw's Ted Talk.

I'm interesting in thinking about the consequences of that theory both for understanding comedy and for creating it. So partly I'm writing about the theory in general and the things it's made me think, and partly I'm writing about actual bits of comedy I like and trying to apply my ideas to those things to see whether they hold up.

For the theory stuff this is a good starting point.

Or if you prefer, you can dive into some of the bits of comedy I have written about.

Making the site

On a practical note, the trigger for this was discovering the Obsidian app, which is a note taking / wiki app. It was partly playing around with it that made me decide that I could turn some of this stuff into a website. It's one of those things that I've been subconsciously wishing for for years and so when I found it a lot of things fell into place, which is the kind of thing that sometimes happens and sparks a flurry of activity.

Oh and if you're wondering, there is an explanation for the name of the site.

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