Odd Number Funny

Odd numbers are funnier than even numbers.

If you talk to anyone who works as a writer for a sitcom on TV, they’ll probably impart a whole lot of knowledge onto you that has something to do with success in writing for TV. Most of it will probably be bullshit-speak about working hard and knowing the right people and being in the right place at the right time and having a great television spec and a good agent and a great manager and did I mention knowing the right people?

But they will never tell you that writing a script for a TV sitcom is more about science than anything else.

The funny thing about comedy is that it’s harder to write than drama, horror, etc. That’s because people’s concept of what makes something funny is different across the board. People will all probably cry or get emotional at someone dying or a family being torn apart. People will also probably all jump at various horror-scenes with boogeymen jumping from behind a curtain. But comedy? What you find funny and what I find funny could be two different things.

Along the way, people have tried to decypher just what makes things funny and I was a part of a conversation once with TV writers who were convinced (read: converted) into thinking that odd numbers got a bigger laugh than even numbers. What do I mean? Check it:


A husband and daughter (Bill and Jamie) are talking at the dinner table.

Jamie: That’s right, uh huh. Oh yeah. You are looking at your extremely intelligent daughter! Call MENSA, Dad. I passed that driver’s exam no problem! And you were worried. See? All that studying did pay off.

Bill: How many times did you have to take it before you passed?

Jamie: (Embarassed) Ten.

Had Jamie said Eleven would it have been any funnier? Sadly, I sort of think so. Although, I think the funniest answer would have been, “Twenty-seven or twenty-nine…it was hard to keep track.”

What do you think? Odd numbers, even numbers, or just funny writing?

Good question.

5 comments on “Odd Number Funny

  1. Will - April 3, 2004 at 6:41 pm -

    Oh, odd numbers, no contest. Take seven, for instance. Seven is a syllable longer than most numbers in its area. The longer the funnier. Seven is odd. It all adds up.

  2. Diann - April 3, 2004 at 8:00 pm -

    Odd numbers are better all the way around. Even numbers are two symmetrical – too expected.

    BTW, just letting you know your book is alive, well and for sale in West Palm Beach, FL. I went into Barnes and Noble at CityPlace with every intent of making a scene if it wasn’t there (“What? You don’t have Paul Davidson’s book? And you call yourself a bookstore?) But lo and behold, there it was in the gay porn, I mean, the humor section.

  3. Pauly D - April 3, 2004 at 9:49 pm -

    Glad to know the rest of the world still considers it a book worth selling. At least, well, Florida. Is that really, the rest of the world?

    I mean, doesn’t everyone eat dinner at 4pm in the afternoon?

    Thanks for the patronage, Diann.

  4. Diann - April 4, 2004 at 7:50 am -

    Yes, it was right between “AARP’s Guide to Sex After 60” and “How to Save Even More Money On Your Dinner Bill: Eat at 2PM.”

    (Then again, I do live fairly close to Del Boca Vista)

  5. Dan - April 6, 2004 at 12:51 am -

    There are no funny numbers. Well, okay, 5 cracks me up…

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