If you want to know how to skillfully setup and tell a joke, watch Looney Tunes.
Looney Tunes were on every Saturday morning for three hours and I’d plop myself onto the floor in front of the TV and enjoy the varied adventures of Bugs and his pals.
One of my favorite moments was when the Coyote, in an attempt to get the Road Runner, affixed on his head a helmet with a wheel on top, that would run down a long wire that was suspended hundreds of feet up in the air, and down to the street, just in time to snatch the speedy Road Runner as he passed by.
One of the dumbest ideas in the history of dumb ideas.
How the creators presented this dumb idea gives wonderful insight into how to setup and pull of a joke.
- First, set up an amazingly insane premise as the logical thing to do.
- Second, spend a LOT of time preparing and trying to execute this insane idea.
- Third, when the expectations have been set, and we’ve become impatient to see if it will work because we’ve spent so much time preparing for it, provide an outcome that no one sees coming.
The Looney Tune creators, especially in the early Road Runner/Coyote episodes, mastered this technique.
I encourage you to set your DVRs to Cartoon Network and record a couple of episodes of Looney Tunes. Watch how these storytellers perfected their craft in the medium of animation. It’s great stuff.