Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Creativity Exercise: My Brain is Full

There's a right way to say something:

And a wrong way:

Today's exercise? Tell me why Gary Larson's Far Side cartoon is 2 million times funnier than Bil Keane's Family Circus.


My Half Of said...

Love these challenges. But the best part is coming up with how the Family Circle panel could be as funny as the FarSide one.

The FarSide has already shown the person's brain who is asking to be excused is smaller than everyone else's brain in the class. So it's obvious what the student is asking for is the hilarious truth.

Perhaps the Family Circus panel would be funnier if it said, "Can we have dessert now? My dinner compartment is full."

Bud Simpson said...

The basic answer is that nothing about Family Circus is ever funny. The extended answer is (a) that Larson's characters didn't have names or reader histories, so that any character can act in any way necessary to complete a concise and pointed gag. We don't know small-brain-boy, so he becomes everyman. All our brains are full sometime.

(b) Less is more.

(c) Scarcity increases value. Since Larson retired the Far Side, we have only the existing body of work to appreciate.

Keane's characters can never extend beyond their pre-determined limits to express a concept. This kid's brain is always full. Asking him to have an "Aha! moment" would be like asking Captain Kirk to show up on the bridge of the Enterprise as a glittered, swishy transvestite. It just takes too much explaining.

p.s. Some years back. a friend and I wandered through the California Academy of Sciences in San Franciso. (Any place with a Focault pendulum is all right with me.) They had a number of Larson's original drawings on display.

Gabby said...

The Larson comic is relatable. Everyone has been in the position of the kid with the small brain. When they see the comic they think of themselves in a similar situation where they are trying to comprehend a subject that feels like it is incomprehensible.
It is the humour where you are trying to grasp something and not being able too. "I am tired, I want to sleep now." "Excuse me miss, can I be excused, my brain is full." We are laughing with the character because we have been that character.
The Family Circle comic is of a little kid. And I am sure as a kid we have been in similar circumstances where tackling something is hard, we are still an outsider to the event. It is not about us but about a kid. We are being asked to laugh at the innocence of childhood. But only as an observer to the situation. We are laughing at the kid. We are not laughing at the frustration of a difficult situation but at the naivety of a child.
That is probably why the Larson cartoon is much more successful.

Unknown said...

Or the Family Circle cartoon could use a bit more of a confused metaphor or idiom from the boy's standpoint.For instance, as my youngest of three kids, who at the time was about 7 years old, said in frustration to his older siblings just after they had mentioned a gross subject at the dinner table," Oh great! you just lost my appetite!"