Caption: (L-R) Bill Scheft, Steve Young, Matt Roberts and Susan Spencer
Susan Spencer goes inside the writers’ room at CBS’ LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN as part of a CBS SUNDAY MORNING WITH CHARLES OSGOOD report on the science and art of being funny to be broadcast March 30 (9:00 AM, ET) on the CBS Television Network.
The common denominator of a funny joke is something that hits in the “midpoint of smart and silly,” LATE SHOW writer Steve Young tells Susan Spencer. “Something that’s not purely nonsense, but something that’s not so soberly intellectual that it’s not actually funny,” Young says. “You got to hit that sweet spot right in the middle.”
Spencer talks with LATE SHOW writers Young, Bill Scheft and Matt Roberts, along with psychologist Joe Moran, who works at the Center for Brain Science at Harvard University, and author Scott Weems, to find out what separates funny from boring.
Moran has done research by putting people in MRI machines while they watch something funny and then measuring how their brains react.
“Humor is complex. It’s difficult. It’s hard to produce. It’s hard to fake,” Moran tells Spencer. “You know, you just can’t fake being funny.”
Indeed, the LATE SHOW’s Scheft tells Spencer that out of a couple hundred jokes pitched for the program, only 16 or 17 will make it on the air. “It’s all generating mounds and mounds of coleslaw to get that one good serving,” Scheft says.
CBS SUNDAY MORNING is broadcast Sundays (9:00-10:30 AM, ET) on the CBS Television Network. Rand Morrison is the executive producer.
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