Category Archives: laugh foundation

Stand-Up

onStandUpi just wrote and posted some of my recent thoughts On Stand-Up Comedy and UX up on LinkedIn — go gander a bit and read if you’ve got some minutes to spare, i think i’ve bumped across a lot of interesting similarities between the 2 fields by taking Amy Tee’s Stand-Up Comedy course out at North Shore Community College this Summer and some of the work i’ve done by learning about stand-up — through the process of writing and refining a set of stand-up comedy — enlightened me about various aspects of my life ( both personal and professional ) on SO many levels

its been a fascinating journey

that said — in less than a week i will perform my very first serious set of stand-up comedy out at Timothy’s in Danvers — here’s a link to the Facebook Even Page in case you’re interested in seeing more about the event or maybe even purchasing tickets for dinner and the show — its gonna be a lot of fun with over 10 comedians breaking out their material to friends, families strangers and frenemies, i really can’t wait

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after this week’s debut stand-up performance i will most likely head back to Laughter at the End of the World, Outloud Open Mike and other similar, wonderful events to perform and test my material and hopefully augment this initial 6 minute set into a fuller body of work to keep pushing my comedy

after that, i gotta get back to focusing on building out and working with the team of Comedy Catalysts i’ve rounded up for TEDxBeaconStreet this November — SO many amazing TED Talks goin’ down for a big weekend in midNovember, and SO many talented comedic professionals expressing interest and comin’ on board — ‘sGonna be SO much fun!

 

 

on the next …

lou suSi, stand-up comedian and comedic performer

so, here i am

much of my life remains the same in so many ways — and yet recently i feel like i’ve made fantastic strides in life that open up new areas for discovery, new opportunities to grow and contribute in an entirely refreshing way

i’m starting up a new chapter in life

this is a chapter that i’ve actually been working on for most of my life

i’m such a fucking late bloomer, though

a complete clod

always fumbling for the pull chain to click-click the closet light on and finally shed some light into the darkened room

i say this not to beat myself up here on my very own blog or anything, but i guess in retrospect its all so refreshing obvious to me now

my new direction feels so incredible simple, too — almost too entirely natural for me to feel like i just suddenly discovered it over the course of the last few months

i’ve finally decided to start taking humor and comedy seriously

it sounds so hilariously strange to me when i write it out like that, too, but its one of the few times in my lifetime that just make sense and feel right { other similar times from my life include: coming back into Art and Creativity as my core career focus; falling in love and marrying the woman of my dreams and making a family and life together; digging deeper into my creative energies and talents to focus on experience design and research-driven, user-centered processes as my lifelong avocation }

i’ve done a lot of self-reflecting,
soul searching and analysis
these last few years

and its been wonderful looking back at my life to see the long list of crazy, humor-based projects, performances and installations i’ve either curated or directly created — running through my CV, i get this sense now that i’ve been tap-dancing like a madman in a field of pollock paint splotches, perhaps so busy making — happily making — to even see from a higher perspective if there might be any patterns lurking in the mix

part of me doesn’t want any of it to make sense at all

as an artist, that’s not my job at the end of the day anyways, right?

but another part of me knows that you can create from a far stronger place with a deeper sense of self-awareness around what you do { or even around what you did } and i think that’s what i’ve been finally looking into as a way to build a new place from which to make my work

you would think that all of this self-reflection, too, would lead me to a far mature foundation from which to make and curate and perform

but it looks like i still needs to be silly

perhaps even sillier than i’ve ever been before,
at least within the context of my past work

i recently took on the amazing role of the official Comedy Catalyst for this year’s TEDxBeaconStreet in the Fall and i am committed to making the comic relief i bring to the weekend and all of its surrounding events so completely knee-slapping nuttyFun hilarious that i’m almost skipping rope with glee like a naughty child from right my office desk at the moment

i am committed to bringin’ the funny in such a big, big way

just remember — i couldn’t possibly make fun of TEDxBeaconStreet by my lonesome — its only via my carefully hand-selected Comedy Catalyst Team that the right kind of laughter can flow between the cracks of over-glorified bleeding-edge ideas from the most upper ups of our oh so humble Boston-Area intelligensia

let me know if you’re interested in joining our wisecrack ninja team of humorists, stand-ups and other olympic comedic adventurers out at TEDxBeaconStreet — ‘sGonna be too much fun { TMF that is }

 

 

on laughter and control

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Laughter is a loss of control.

— Walter Ness, Energy Theater

why we laugh

laughing-kid

i’ve done a lot of research in the areas of ‘humor, laughter and the areas in-between’ as a means to understand what makes things funny or not, and its a fascinating topic with numerous theories for us to consider — the leading theories include: The Superiority Theory; The Incongruity and Incongruity-Resolution Theories; The Benign Violation Theory; The Mechanical Theory; and The Release Theory

all of these theories delve into the rather interesting and subtle dynamics around the conditions that produce laughter from human beings, but i’m not so sure they actually even begin to answer the question:

Why do we laugh?

i remember reading all about Peter McGrath’s Benign Violation Theory in The Boston Globe a while back — McGrath’s claims behind his theory almost promise a rather compact and cozy little concept around interpersonal dynamics that almost stand alone as the veritable Holy Grail behind Humor and Laughter Research — a sort of ‘one simple theory explains it all’ — but closer examination and consideration, especially when bringing up examples of humor that actually purposely do not intend to produce genuine, out loud human laughter, subtly shifts Benign Violation from a category of laugh theory into more of a comedy strategy

i’d like to suggest that many of these theories
completely miss the mark

these theories do not actually explain why human beings laugh but instead examine the contextual circumstances that almost mechanically provoke the human response of laughter in only certain situations — know what i mean? 

its taken me quite some time now to really look at this subject matter in the proper light and to interpret and really analyze all the theories and nuances of laughter, humor, comedy and funniness — and i feel its oversimplistic and almost unfair to think that only one theory does the trick here, because laughter is a very complicated human phenomena, almost as complicated an area of study as our belief systems and our cultures

but, as a means to completely contradict myself now, i feel that we can, in fact, explain the ‘Why?’ question — and embed all of these various theories around the circumstances surrounding laughter into the major reason we laugh — with a new theory of laughter evolution as i’m about to try and articulate …

toward a
New Theory of
Human Laughter Evolution

an initial theory to answer the question ‘why do human beings laugh?’

this is going to sound totally ridiculous, maybe even funny to you, but i believe we laugh as human beings because we have to

we simply need to laugh

as human beings, we all walk through the world as these living, breathing vessels for various psycho-dynamic energies

some of these energies can be positive and some of these energies can be negative

but the energies build up inside all of us as if we were containers made of flesh and blood and bones that simply hold these mysterious energies

bottle-humor

antiquated scientific theories actually suggested that liquids called humours literally coursed through our bodies — and that these liquid humours were what triggered joy and laughter in an almost endorphin-like fashion

but i believe that the energies we build up { not measured as liquid or solid or gas in form } need to be released — and one of the most positive ways we can release extreme build-ups of our internal energies is through laughter

one other consideration that might make this a wee bit more complex and realistic as a pseudo-scientific theory follows

we, as human beings, probably initially cultivated laughter as a release system in an iterative, evolutionary manner as our species needed to adapt to the tense circumstances of our world — this does not mean that i subscribe solely to Freud’s Release Theory, but our need to release unhealthy energy is the most likely original reason we began to laugh as a species — in early human pre-history we needed to ultimately release the harsh feelings and energies building up inside as we dealt with our environment and the ways of the world — and laughter is a rather transgressive human expression of these potentially negative energies that feel far too intense for the body and mind to handle in a healthy manner

so, we need to laugh to survive

laughter is an adaptive behavior we’ve developed over time as a means
to psychologically brave the challenging experiences we encounter in life

and now — depending upon our contextual circumstances in the moment — we’ve evolved a rather intriguing set of socio-dynamic systems around laughter { beyond our original adaptive ‘energy release’ needs } with a multitude of complex, situation-based rules to govern when, why and how we laugh, and whether or not a particular expression of laughter indicates certain levels of social acceptability and awareness

its all fascinating stuff, right?

i plan to post more here and elsewhere on the webz along the way as i conduct further research into laughter and humor through Laugh Institute with the final outcome being a new book project that i’m affectionately calling the laughterLife as inspired by the fourth stream of cyberSurreal subConsciousness from my graduate design thesis confounded: future fetish design performance for human advocacy

[: stay tuned :]

Want to participate in a Laugh Study?

 

 

the laughterLife

little child baby

i so wanted to already unrealistically be done with my re-written thesis by now, which i realize is simply ridiculous

one of my main issues — both my biggest challenge and my greatest attitudinal asset as an artist and designer, actually — is my utter lack of any sense of realism

i am Surrealistic through and through

and with my previous thesis work, too, i’ve contextualized my work and personality as that of a cyberSurrealist

but this was the distracting pull that veered me away from what i now feel should have been my main thesis focus — laughter

confounded — as nicely expressed by my überStrong and somewhat out of control subconscious interior — was just that on SO many levels

confounded

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i love the work i did out at DMI to death — really i do — but i completely understand some problematic issues of my own struggle between focus and blur — i even had very specific slides in my performative review presentations that visually depicted my tendencies to ebb and flow from one mode into the other

of course, there’s nothing wrong with pushing and pulling between more focused work and blurry brainstormy fun — but then, when trying to research, design, test, reflect and articulate on a meaningful topic, that’s when its important, of course, to try and pull something reasonably understandable together as a final product with important conclusions for an audience’s considerations

i got excited about founding a movement of one { which i now find hilarious } — this soft revolution of sorts that gave me the good excuse to ‘act out’ a little bit and experiment with psychoSocial boundaries that are now beyond blurred due to an increasingly fleeting technohumanic evolutionary ecosystem — there’s no guardrail to this shit at all — and the lack of rules or standards opens up plenty of opportunities for us all to exploit as cartoonish iCapitalists set loose on the world

wdwwwtd

 

there are little to no consequences for acting more and more emotionless and robotic — for approaching the previous dotted-line boundaries that were once oh so clear to us all but that are now very easy to step across in the most silly, passive-aggressive ways imaginable

and, of course, we’re all well aware that these things happen every day — corporations seem to lead the way by transgressing what we all know is the territory of wrong and then either asking forgiveness later or somehow making the bent or broken rules officially and permanently forever bent in the way of corporate favor

but now, back to laughter

The-Power-of-Laughter

i’ve got to get back to laughter

both as a topic to finish my research, prototyping, reflection and reporting on and as a lighter way to live my life over these last 30 to 50 years or so

i’ve been feeling heavy lately

i’m physically heavy — or as they say, obese

i’ve always gone up and down in weight, its been an ongoing life challenge for me — and every once in a while i put my best effort into getting healthy by starting up jogging, watching what i eat, going to the gym, staying away from sweets, all that, ya know? 

but that kind of life is just SO boring — the vigor and fun gets just sucked right out of every minute when you’re watching every little morsel you eat — and SO many options at restaurants and even at the supermarket are simply off the table — life becomes a little less flavorful

and, on top of all that drop in the joy of eating, exercise is just dead boring to me — hamsterwheel cardio in front of a row of vapid television programming while listening to the current piped in muzak poppedness feels like such a waste of fucking time — i mean, i know it isn’t — its a little road to recovery and all, but jeez, wtf? ya know?

so, besides being physically heavy, i’ve also been extremely spiritually heavy as of late

i feel that at the tender age of 44 i’ve accomplished enough in life, but i don’t feel like i’ve done anything all that ‘great,’ if you know what i mean — and now that times a tickin’

i mean, besides being a relatively decent dad at times and a semi-decent person { mostly by comparison, which i guess isn’t saying all that much at the end of the day … hmmMMmmm } i’m not feeling like i’ve made a dent in some of the big challenges we face in the world

but then again, who am i? right?

what can one person possibly do to make at least a minor portion of some of this shit we deal with ‘right’ for our future generations?

 

at times i’ve described my thesis — my previous thesis, confounded: future fetish design performance for human advocacy — as being about ‘laughter, humor and the area inbetween’

my contextual history from confoundedsomewhere between humor and laughter — at least captures different definitions for the word ‘funny’ as a way to establish the uncanny valley of humor i typically situate myself within — as a sometimes amateur comedian, i am actually quite bored with comedy and often plant myself as a performer, or even as a member of the audience, as a bit of a virus — at this point, comedy is a commodity and so much of it just isn’t funny at all in the ‘ha ha’ sense of being genuinely funny — humor is now vastly flattened, predictable and unsurprising and much of the time a stand-up comedian or even the actors in a situation comedy vastly depend upon the magic of the setup of a comedy club or televised comedic show to land the laughs

i get the sense that we’re practicing the ghost-rhythm of the previously established comedic delivery and ultimately leveraging the tickle-theory basis of something like Peter McGraw’s Benign Violation as a delivery strategy to make people laugh — but i’m still not convinced any of it is truly ‘funny’ per se

what i’m finding lacking in the research right now is a lack of openness to many perspectives

in order to understand laughter as a human phenomena i think we also need to study and research laughter, humor, comedy, funniness and the lack of funniness to better analyze the entire milieu of these built-in forces within us all

what makes something funny? what makes something unfunny? why do we laugh? what’s laughter all about? why do we need a joking comment or a television canned laugh track or the wonderful trappings of a stand-up comedy club as the contextual ‘space’ that gives us permission to laugh?

these were areas i lightly focused on in my 4th stream in confounded — the last stream, too — but one that still feels somewhat incomplete, hurried and waiting for continued work and revelation

i touched upon a lot of important thought and research around laughter but didn’t give myself the space and time to properly focus this vastly important area of my research

this is the page i’ll now turn to — i want to re-open this stream of research, work, prototyping and reflection to finish the work that i started and finish it up in a far more rewarding manner

i don’t know if this will end up feeling like something ‘great’ to offer up to the world, or at least not ‘great’ enough, but i think this work deserves to be finished in a decent manner

i will treat the topics of laughter, humor, comedy and funniness { and even lack of funniness } with dignity and respect

and then i will eat them

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its a laughShowdown @ 20 paces

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‘at’s right pardnerz, Laugh Foundation takes these laughing matters quite seriously. In these days of the ever-descending wild, wild west — as Arab Springs rise and flail, as capitalist economies continue to rupture and crumbleLaugh Foundation challenges you to challenge us to a full out laughShowdown at high noon!

Let’s do it spaghetti western-style, aight? You tweet us up a nice lil’ laughShowdown challenge and we’ll meet up in the street and settle these matters mano a mano, know what I’m sayin’ lil’ cowgirlz ‘n’ ‘boyz? It’s a shoot ’em up public nightmare laughfest to show who’s gonna hit ’em up with the ha has until there’s only one dusty laughstr left standin’. So, whaddaya say, eh?

don’t fergit to check out Laugh Foundation out here on the webz while you’re @ it, aight?

 

 

noted progress from Laugh Foundation

not long ago Deb Mascara + i had the pleasure of presenting a score for laughter called ‘laughStream 2.0’ at Mobius Works in Progress … as Laugh Foundation, Deb + i walked on stage with music stands + followed the very loosely constructed score seen below:

some of our laughs followed a pre-recorded audio soundScape that included canned audience laughter from sitcoms, real laughter that i recorded as well as some surreal inclusion of animal noises { dogs barking, monkeys screeching, rooster cock a doodle dooing } … at other points Deb + i passed the laughter back + forth between us as a caricaturish demonstration of contagious laughter

our performance aimed to conduct the emotional feelings of the audience using nothing more than our onstage presence + laughter … through volume, direction, intensity, texture, and other parameters we targeted certain individuals as well as the entire group + overall the results interestingly proved to me just how complex human laughter can be

pre-recorded applause at the opening of the performance almost immediately triggered happy, willing applause from the audience, but laughter, no matter how hard we tried, in this particular artificial + strange set up, proved to be a very difficult response for us to elicit from our captive onlookers … there were smiles, eye contact + a certain need to look away when directly visually engaged midlaugh, but only a nervous laugh here + there … a giggle or titter at best

the social dynamics of misplaced energy … behavioral oddity + the reactions from the general public … these seem to be a key component of what i do naturally in life right now … there is a lot of confrontation … an angry outlet … i often wonder what will happen when our technology not only shapes our behavior but when the tools we create start to have a mind of their own, perhaps even when these technologies attack us + behave unexpectedly … how will we react? what will we do then? when the seemingly benificent devices we dream up + create suddenly turn on us, in an era where machines gain their own individual consciousness + like upset little teenagers they begin to argue, rebel + upset us? what if conscious machines don’t even like us? how will we handle our little monsters?

ha ha … who knows? … but maybe we can set up a few projects + test the waters, right? maybe we need to set up some user-centered prototypes + do some usability testing … or maybe, in the end, it would be the beginnings of a sort of technology survival training

the laughter life

aight, aight, aight …

new concept … coming right outta this here Sound for Dynamic Media course @ The DMI …

so … lately … on my Facebook laugh group, i’ve been using the smile emoticon as a sort of parenthetical, visual naming element + convention … so, the name of the group + all that is surrounded [: like this :] in little smileys, right? … + then on the other more poetry-based Facebook group i started up ( an actual second attempt to eRessucitate the poetry round-robin open mike i had running back in the early ’90s, The Sound of Dolphins ) i used a slightly different, but subtly similar convention … |: something more like this :|, right? these are the written music symbols that surround a repeating set of bars …

… so …

… why not create a Score for Laughter? sections of the score would be surrounded by the old [: smiley emoticons like so :] … + i could use the pitch + other parameters of musicality to really demarcate what i might want a laugh ensemble to produce for me as the laugh conductor … might be ridiculous, but worth trying out, right? ;]

could be creepy-cool-fun

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