The Business Of Being Funny and Some Questionable Priorities

Questionable priorities first.  PricewaterhouseCoopers has hired bodyguards for accountants Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz, the unfortunate pair who were responsible for handing over the Academy Award envelopes.  PwC is taking very seriously death threats the pair have received because of the mix-up with the Best Picture presentation.

That's right, death threats.*  Apparently the most crucial issue facing the nation today, the one that requires immediate, violent resolution, is the incorrect dissemination of envelopes at an awards ceremony.**  Now you know.

Speaking of movies, you're probably aware that I'm in the finishing stages of a board game involving a movie theme.***  The scripts, directors, and actors in Film Tycoons are parodies of real films and people, and two weeks ago I went through all the cards (300 of them) to try to ensure they were a) funny but b) not offensive. 

 Possibly the best advice I've ever received.

Possibly the best advice I've ever received.

The scripts were hard enough.  It's amazingly difficult to be funny 110 times in a row in four sentence increments.  Remember the quote, "Sorry I wrote such a long letter; I didn't have time to write a short one?"****  It's certainly a true phenomenon in humor -- it's much easier to be funny when you've got more words/time to do it.  That's especially true when you're taking care not to be mean.  In Film Tycoons we only included actors and actresses we like, so we wanted to keep the humor good-natured.  Not surprisingly, it's much easier to make some of the audience laugh when you make another part of the audience cry. 

Years ago I saw an interesting summary of the creative process for Mystery Science Theater 3000.  The crew described sitting at a conference table as they watched a movie, everyone throwing out random lines that came to mind.  Someone would track all the brainstorming, then they'd organize, decide to eliminate some options, and do it again.  And again.  And then refine.  And then polish.  By the time they actually recorded the show the creative team (which included the live actors) were probably awfully tired of the film they were panning.  I imagine they also started second-guessing the lines that seemed funny five days earlier, before they were repeated twenty times.

Overall, being funny isn't always fun, and at some points it feels like solving quadratic equations would be more entertaining.  But at least there's the occasional no-brainer when a movie like Avatar makes the parody process almost criminally easy.

Avatar: the extremely rare element is called "Unobtanium?"  How do you come up with this stuff?


* I don't think there's any way I would have believed this if I hadn't seen the movie The Accountant, which made me realize exactly how devious these people are.  But it also begs the question, why do they need bodyguards?  Apparently ninjitsu and explosives are required training for accountants.

** Why the need for violence?  I have a kinder, gentler proposal: track down the ancestry of the two accountants, identify the countries whence they came, and build a GIANT WALL to keep any more of these nefarious people from entering the United States!  That'll protect our awards shows!

*** Since you're reading my blog and I won't shut up about it...

**** Like many pithy quotes, I've seen this one attributed to a bazillion people: Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill...the list goes on.  Apparently Blaise Pascal is the earliest actual attribution.  That's right -- math geeks are funny!