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Mon, May. 7th, 2007, 07:05 am
BasilWhite.com - (X, Y, chicken): the comedy rule of threes and set theory

lj-tags: rule of threes, set theory, comedy writing, humor
BasilWhite.com - (X, Y, chicken): the comedy rule of threes and set theory

A lot of comics talk about the rule of threes in magical terms, because they keep noticing sets and patterns and events in threes. I think so much comedy occurs in threes because of set theory, principles of how sets of things work. Comedy violates an expectation, and one way to create an expectation is to establish a pattern.

The smallest set that establishes a pattern is a set with two elements, e.g., (X, Y), so a set with three elements is the smallest set that can establish and violate its own pattern, e.g., (X, Y, chicken). I added this observation to the "rule of threes" entry in Wikipedia last month, and no one deleted it, so I assume the world has adopted my idea as truth.

My comic strip, Standup Comics, has three panels that never change because 1) I'm lazy, 2) strips in Standup Comics are jokes from my act rendered in comic strip format, and 3) chicken. A fan of mine, Jo Wilson, told me that my act reminded her of a dramatization of a comic strip, and that I should try to turn some of the shorter jokes into comic strips. She was right, and so now I have a comic strip, I have an editor looking for a publisher for me, and Jo, I'm looking forward to owing you some money.


As always, tell me what you think.


Basil White

Tue, May. 8th, 2007 06:52 am (UTC)
(Anonymous): Repetition

Interesting observation you've got there about the magical 3.

Your first paragraph says something twice: "I think so much comedy occurs in threes because of set theory. I think so much comedy occurs in threes because of set theory...."

I fully expected a third iteration – I thought you were doing the self-referential thing – or else chicken.

Wed, May. 9th, 2007 01:31 am (UTC)
basilwhite: Re: Repetition

Fixed. Damn. Chicken.