In this blog, Greg Dean Comedy Tip 6: Joke Misdirection – Part 2, I’ll examine how misdirection works with Shared Knowledge jokes. In my previous blog, Greg Dean Comedy Tip 5: Joke Misdirection – Part 1, I explained the role of misdirection in one-liner jokes.
Shared Knowledge Jokes Misdirection
Joke misdirection works a little differently as the setups, if we can call them setups, are based on information we already know or information all around us. Most comedians and joke writers don’t understand or even recognize Shared Knowledge jokes, even though they use them all the time. It took me years to recognize Shared Knowledge jokes because they have no performed setup.
Shared Knowledge jokes come in two categories: Common Information and Present Environment. In this blog, I’ll only cover joke misdirection in Common Information and leave joke misdirection in the Present Environment for Greg Dean Comedy Tip 7: Joke Misdirection – Part 3.
In this class of jokes, the setup’s misdirection is created when a group of people acceptance the assumption that something they already know has only one meaning or application. Previously learned knowledge can be very broad like the law of gravity or specific to a group like the rituals of the Free Masons. If someone within a group doesn’t have the common knowledge, then they won’t get the joke.
Let me clarify with an example. I had a legally blind student, Leighann Kinghorn, and while she was doing her show in my stand-up comedy classes, I recognized the joke misdirection in an existing assumption about being blind and wrote her this joke.
“Sir, may I touch your face?” When he said, “Yes,” she released her folded white cane which extended to full length with a snap. She began touching his head and shoulders with the cane.
Both the opening of the cane and the touching him with the cane got big laughs.
The setup’s misdirection in this joke is our assumption that when someone blind asks if they can touch our face, they’ll do so with their hands. I recognized this Common Information assumption as the joke’s misdirection, and then thought, “What else could she touch his face with?” I notice she was holding a white cane. Hopefully, you’re beginning to see how the joke misdirection works with Common Information jokes.
In my next blog, Greg Dean Comedy Tip 7: Joke Misdirection – Part 3, I’ll show how joke misdirection works in the second category of Immediate Environment jokes.