Crazy Funny: The Secret Behind the Best Comedians

 

By James Lang

Why strive to fit in if your goal is to be funny? A recent study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry suggests that the secret to making other people laugh is having an unusual personality. Originally reported on Reuters, the study and the surrounding discussion offers some insights into what makes people so funny.

lewis black

Basically, there’s a sweet spot between howling at the moon and avoiding intimacy that scientists have begun to identify as the best mental state for a career in comedy. To those in the business of making people laugh, it comes as no shock that you need to be a little bit nuts if you want to succeed.

After all, what kind of sane, rational human being thinks: “Career, family and financial stability are way overrated! I think I’ll gamble the majority of my life on a dream while bouncing between clubs and desperate industry gigs that barely keep the lights on.”

To gain valuable insights into what makes a comedian tick, a questionnaire was developed that would help scientists paint a mental picture of the respondents that took part in the study. I’m guessing the sales pitch for participation went something like: “Who wants a free slice of pizza? Cool, just fill out this questionnaire really quick and let me know what toppings you want.”

532 comedians, 364 actors and 831 non-creatives were given the same questionnaire. Based on the answers received, scientists analyzed the results and compared the psychiatric profiles of each aggregate group.

Comedians scored much higher than other respondents in four areas that specifically indicate psychotic personalities. These areas included:

  1. Unusual Experiences: Do you believe aliens have visited earth? Think you can communicate with your cousin on the other side of the globe without a cellphone or internet connection? Are you investing in stocks based on a crystal ball’s projections of future earnings? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you probably score higher than the average person in the “unusual experiences” category.
  2. Cognitive Disorganization: Have difficulty focusing on one thing at a time? Do you find yourself getting lost daydreaming? You may struggle with cognitive disorganization.
  3. Introvertive Anhedonia: Do you have a hard time just relaxing and enjoying yourself around friends at a party? Would you rather binge on Netflix than go to a bar and meet new people? You might score high on a test measuring introvertive anhedonia.
  4. Impulsive Non-Conformity: Hmm, when’s the last time you heard about a comedian swimming upstream against cultural currents? Yep, exactly. Can you imagine George Carlin or Lewis Black tempering their performance based on societal expectations?

Actors scored high on three of the four traits. Introvertive Anhedonia is something they don’t suffer with. Could it be that a comedian is just an actor that hates being around other people?

Are crazy and psychotic the same thing? The findings of this study point to psychotic behavior. Is it intellectually honest to use psychotic and crazy interchangeably, especially within the confines of this discussion around the things that make comedians tick?

Crazy is more or less a socially acceptable term for describing a potentially psychotic individual. The study points specifically to comedians exhibiting psychotic traits. All of these psychotic traits can add up to a perception by the people around you that you’re a bit crazy.

This isn’t to say that psychotic personality traits are the same thing as being psycho (or a psychopath). If you’re truly bat-shit crazy and suffer from delusions that couple with a lack of empathy and morality, you’re a psychopath that will likely be spending some time in a straight-jacket before too long.

If, on the other hand, you simply see the world from a unique perspective and can’t help indulging your wild side while up on stage, you’re likely a comedian. Or you have the potential to be a pretty awesome standup comedian.

For audiences attending a comedy club, they didn’t pay money for a ticket and a few drinks so that they could listen to someone impersonate their buddies at the office watercooler. Comedy fans are looking for entertainment. There’s nothing more entertaining than the truly unique and exciting. It’s like that one crazy friend in every squad.

Everybody has that one friend that you think twice about hanging out with in public, within earshot of innocent bystanders. Comedy and a potential career in comedy can give that one person a lot of hope. The wonderful career choice where irreverent observations are celebrated and encouraged!

No Comments

Leave a Reply

  • *

Aaron Berg, Nathan Macintosh, Nore Davis

May
26

7:00 PM
Emma Willmann, Rachel Feinstein, Todd Barry

May
26

7:00 PM
Anthony DeVito, Anthony Kapfer, Francisco Aldorando, Geno Bisconte, KC Arora, Mike Yard

May
26

7:15 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

May
26

8:00 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

May
26

8:00 PM
Daniel Simonsen, Harrison Greenbaum, Jeffrey Joseph, Meghan Hanley

May
26

8:00 PM
Aaron Berg, D.C. Benny, Mike Vecchione, Mike Yard, Veronica Mosey

May
26

8:00 PM
Drew Fraser, Dustin Chafin, Greer Barnes, Mike Cannon

May
26

8:00 PM
Anthony DeVito, Anthony Kapfer, Francisco Aldorando, Geno Bisconte, KC Arora, Mike Yard

May
26

8:30 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

May
26

8:30 PM
Aaron Berg, Greer Barnes, Nathan Macintosh, Quentin Heggs, Rich Aronovitch

May
26

9:00 PM
Emma Willmann, Rachel Feinstein, Todd Barry

May
26

9:00 PM
Anthony DeVito, Anthony Kapfer, Francisco Aldorando, Geno Bisconte, KC Arora, Mike Yard

May
26

9:15 PM
Drew Fraser, Dustin Chafin, Greer Barnes, Mike Cannon

May
26

9:45 PM
Aaron Berg, D.C. Benny, Mike Vecchione, Mike Yard, Veronica Mosey

May
26

10:00 PM
Anthony DeVito, Anthony Kapfer, Francisco Aldorando, Geno Bisconte, KC Arora, Mike Yard

May
26

10:30 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

May
26

10:30 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

May
26

10:30 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

May
26

10:30 PM
Emma Willmann, Rachel Feinstein, Todd Barry

May
26

11:00 PM
Aaron Berg, Greer Barnes, Nathan Macintosh, Quentin Heggs, Rich Aronovitch

May
26

11:00 PM
Aaron Berg, Chuck Nice, Nathan Macintosh, Nore Davis

May
26

11:30 PM
Drew Fraser, Dustin Chafin, Greer Barnes, Mike Cannon

May
26

11:45 PM
Anthony DeVito, Anthony Kapfer, Francisco Aldorando, Geno Bisconte, KC Arora, Mike Yard

May
26

11:59 PM
Anthony DeVito, Anthony Kapfer, Francisco Aldorando, Geno Bisconte, KC Arora, Mike Yard

May
27

1:15 AM
Aaron Berg, D.C. Benny, Mike Vecchione, Mike Yard, Veronica Mosey

May
27

5:00 PM
Emma Willmann, Rachel Feinstein, Todd Barry

May
27

7:00 PM
Anthony DeVito, Anthony Kapfer, Francisco Aldorando, Geno Bisconte, KC Arora, Mike Yard

May
27

7:30 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

May
27

8:00 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

May
27

8:00 PM
Gary Vider, Myq Kaplan, Sheba Mason, Vincent James

May
27

8:00 PM
Aaron Berg, D.C. Benny, Mike Vecchione, Mike Yard, Veronica Mosey

May
27

8:00 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

May
27

8:30 PM
Drew Fraser, Dustin Chafin, Greer Barnes, Mike Cannon

May
27

8:30 PM
Anthony DeVito, Anthony Kapfer, Francisco Aldorando, Geno Bisconte, KC Arora, Mike Yard

May
27

8:45 PM
Emma Willmann, Rachel Feinstein, Todd Barry

May
27

9:00 PM
Aaron Berg, Greer Barnes, Nathan Macintosh, Quentin Heggs, Rich Aronovitch

May
27

9:00 PM
Anthony DeVito, Anthony Kapfer, Francisco Aldorando, Geno Bisconte, KC Arora, Mike Yard

May
27

9:45 PM
Christian Finnegan, D.C. Benny, James Mattern, Mike Yard, Yamaneika Saunders

May
27

10:00 PM
Drew Fraser, Dustin Chafin, Greer Barnes, Mike Cannon

May
27

10:30 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

May
27

10:30 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

May
27

10:30 PM
Anthony DeVito, Anthony Kapfer, Francisco Aldorando, Geno Bisconte, KC Arora, Mike Yard

May
27

10:45 PM
Aaron Berg, Greer Barnes, Nathan Macintosh, Quentin Heggs, Rich Aronovitch

May
27

11:00 PM
Emma Willmann, Rachel Feinstein, Todd Barry

May
27

11:00 PM
Christian Finnegan, D.C. Benny, James Mattern, Mike Yard, Yamaneika Saunders

May
27

11:45 PM
Anthony DeVito, Anthony Kapfer, Francisco Aldorando, Geno Bisconte, KC Arora, Mike Yard

May
27

11:59 PM
Drew Fraser, Dustin Chafin, Greer Barnes, Mike Cannon

May
28

12:30 AM
Anthony DeVito, Anthony Kapfer, Francisco Aldorando, Geno Bisconte, KC Arora, Mike Yard

May
28

1:15 AM
Anthony DeVito, Anthony Kapfer, Francisco Aldorando, Geno Bisconte, KC Arora, Mike Yard

May
28

7:30 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

May
28

8:00 PM
Christian Finnegan, D.C. Benny, James Mattern, Mike Yard, Yamaneika Saunders

May
28

8:00 PM
Drew Fraser, Dustin Chafin, Greer Barnes, Mike Cannon

May
28

8:00 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

May
28

8:30 PM
Emma Willmann, Rachel Feinstein, Todd Barry

May
28

9:00 PM
Aaron Berg, Greer Barnes, Nathan Macintosh, Quentin Heggs, Rich Aronovitch

May
28

9:00 PM
Anthony DeVito, Anthony Kapfer, Francisco Aldorando, Geno Bisconte, KC Arora, Mike Yard

May
28

9:00 PM
Drew Fraser, Dustin Chafin, Greer Barnes, Mike Cannon

May
28

10:00 PM
Christian Finnegan, D.C. Benny, James Mattern, Mike Yard, Yamaneika Saunders

May
28

10:15 PM
Anthony DeVito, Anthony Kapfer, Francisco Aldorando, Geno Bisconte, KC Arora, Mike Yard

May
28

10:30 PM
Aaron Berg, Greer Barnes, Nathan Macintosh, Quentin Heggs, Rich Aronovitch

May
28

11:00 PM
Anthony DeVito, Anthony Kapfer, Francisco Aldorando, Geno Bisconte, KC Arora, Mike Yard

May
28

11:45 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

May
29

8:00 PM
Christian Finnegan, D.C. Benny, James Mattern, Mike Yard, Yamaneika Saunders

May
29

8:00 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

May
29

8:30 PM
Aaron Berg, Greer Barnes, Nathan Macintosh, Quentin Heggs, Rich Aronovitch

May
29

9:00 PM
Aaron Berg, Greer Barnes, Nathan Macintosh, Quentin Heggs, Rich Aronovitch

May
29

11:00 PM
Christian Finnegan, D.C. Benny, James Mattern, Mike Yard, Yamaneika Saunders

May
30

8:00 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

May
30

8:00 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

May
30

8:30 PM
Aaron Berg, Greer Barnes, Nathan Macintosh, Quentin Heggs, Rich Aronovitch

May
30

9:00 PM
Aaron Berg, Greer Barnes, Nathan Macintosh, Quentin Heggs, Rich Aronovitch

May
30

11:00 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

May
31

8:00 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

May
31

8:30 PM
Christian Finnegan, D.C. Benny, James Mattern, Mike Yard, Yamaneika Saunders

May
31

10:15 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

Jun
1

8:30 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

Jun
2

8:30 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

Jun
2

10:30 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

Jun
3

8:30 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

Jun
3

10:30 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

Jun
4

8:30 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

Jun
5

8:30 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

Jun
6

8:30 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

Jun
7

8:30 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

Jun
8

8:30 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

Jun
9

8:30 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

Jun
9

10:30 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

Jun
10

8:30 PM
Marvin Bell, Quentin Heggs, Steven Scott, Warren Holstein

Jun
10

10:30 PM
Akaash Singh, Dean Obeidallah, Geno Bisconte, Sam Morril

Dec
28

7:00 PM
Dante Nero, Jon Laster, Modi, Ryan Reiss, Yamaneika Saunders

Dec
31

8:30 PM