Was That Funny?

Posted by Neko Kyou in Thoughts on December 7th, 2008

Something I noticed whenever I dragged my sister to watch what I thought was a hilarious moment in any anime episodes: she never finds it amusing even as I laughed uncontrollably. But the more she watched, the more she began to find something amusing. It got me thinking whether continuously exposure to a particular gag, character habits or a series actually helps to make it funnier.

It’s the same with Lucky Star and Minami-ke. The first episode of Lucky Star turned off many, especially with that talked-to-death conversation on which end of a chocolate cornet is the head. But after being exposed to a few more chocolate cornet, you begin to realize that the initial conversation was actually pretty funny.

Chocolate Cornet

I still say it looks like a pile of shit

In Minami-ke, it’s the amazing Haruka, the great Chiaki-sama and the diabolical Kana. This is slightly different than the chocolate cornet in that if you didn’t already know the joke, you wouldn’t even realized there was a joke to begin with.

Whenever the gender-confused Mako-chan and Touma are in a pinch, most of us finds it hilarious, especially when they both have apparently forgotten their true gender and goes overboard. But show it to someone watching for the first time and the most likely reaction you would get is “Uhh… Okay…”

Minami Touma

Remember that she pulled this stunt with a boy Mako-chan in the room…

Maybe that’s why jokes are sometimes repeated to death and beyond, because it requires some degree of repetition before it becomes funny, or it is funny because of the repetition.

One series that loves to recycle its gags (successfully) is Ranma 1/2. The unfortunate timing of being splashed by an old granny as Ranma or any of the other “Jusenkyou crew”, the so-called great plans on how to reverse the curse or the “shit, we could have went to Jusenkyou but we missed the chance!” always cracks a laughter or at least a smile.

Ranma 1/2

Let’s look at some non-anime related examples as well. You probably know what a lolcat is and you most likely find it funny and amusing now. Well, most of the time anyway. I don’t remember my initial reaction to the gramatically challenged kitties, but I introduced ICanHasCheezBurger to a friend a couple of month’s back.

His reaction for the first few minutes was nonchalant, but I pressed for him to go on. Less than half an hour later he was clicking for new lolcats as fast as he could and was literally lol-ing.

So while most jokes and gags requires an immediate reaction to be funny, some requires time and repetition to sink it in. Still don’t believe me? Try watching this – just stare at the video and see if you start to laugh:

Yes, I know it’s old and unless you’ve just recently been on the Internet, you’ve probably seen the origin of the Crazy Frog. But I’m just trying to prove a point :)

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