Christian Finnegan on ensuring he’s not “hack”

The folks at ChuckleDumper don’t merely assemble daily links to funny stuff, but sometimes also contribute original material of their own, such as this interview with Christian Finnegan they’ve posted today. Here is Finnegan addressing the nature of writing new material and jokes he finds funny…

But, everybody has their own definition of what ‘hack’ means. Mine has always been when you’re relying on what works, as opposed to what really makes you laugh. And you see it in all the worlds. You see
people get up and do stuff at Rififi that if they were to hear it themselves, wouldn’t laugh at but they know it will get over. And even more so you see it at the clubs. That’s where you see it the most. When you’re at the Dayton Funny Bone, (where I’ll be in late June, by the way), or some club on the road and you see some guy killing, just sort of doing a ‘greatest hits.’ He knows what will work. That’s very depressing. And so when you ask, the initial question, how has my comedy changed, I’ve become a bit of a fascist in the past year or two
in terms of my writing. I really try to only talk about the things I find funny. And sure I’m not saying I still find the jokes funny because we say them 1,000 times, but they have to pass the smell test. To me, the smell test is if I heard this joke coming out of someone else’s mouth, would I find it funny? As long as the answer is yes, then we’re good to go. So I would say the way it’s changed over the years, that’s become an increasing importance to me. Sort of staying true to not just trying to rely on what will go over. Instead, what am I actually thinking about is how can I make that funny? As opposed to what do these idiots think is funny?

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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One thought on “Christian Finnegan on ensuring he’s not “hack”

  1. I don’t understand how this clears anything up.
    If anything, that just makes more grey area.
    Comics get inspired by other comics. Fact. It’s what gives us the confidence to go on stage because we see similarity in someone else’s sense of humor.
    Saying: “I don’t do what I KNOW will work” completely destroys the art form. All of the techniques comics use now fall into the hack category. (The rule of three, pausing, hard consonants.)
    As a comic, you have to attain some sort of intuition of what will work. Part of that comes from studying and seeing what works. Plus there is nothing new under the sun.
    If the comedian’s job was to entertain one person in a room every night, then this approach seems much more logical. But, the comic’s job is to keep a room full of brains entertained and laughing. You have to appeal.
    I think it’s a meeting ground. Your individuality can only go so far. At some point, you have to try to link up with the room.

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