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?