Archive for July, 2012

Creativity can kill you.

Watch the video above.

It’s a recording of the Bolero by the composer Ravel.

Hidden inside this composition are the symptoms of a deadly neurological disorder which killed Ravel.  But, at the same time it enhanced his creativity and allowed him compose this, his most famous work.

Now listen to this amazing Radio Lab story about a woman who suffered from the same condition. She became a prolific and successful painter seemingly out of nowhere, and tellingly, became obsessed with  this piece of music before succumbing to the same obscure disease.

The happy secret to better work.


This very funny talk by Shawn Achor points out how we measure success incorrectly, and inhibit our own happiness by striving for the next achievement. He finishes with some good tips to help you live in the present more, and self generate your own happiness.

Is there a formula to being funny?

This article talks about how incongruity ( a fancy word for being absurd) seems to be bang on formula to get laughs in the world if improv theatre. Especially if your absurd addition to a scene points out an undelying unspoken truth.

But here’s another theme I’ve noticed in things that I find particularly funny.

Firstly, here is the funniest dirty joke in the world delivered in tandem by Drew Carey and Robin Williams. WARNING NSFW!


Because we all understand stories, jokes and how narratives flow, on hearing them we are naturally trying to predict the ending and ‘see the punchline coming’.  If you can lead the audience in one direction, then snap them back with a punchline from an unexpected place, the size of that tension is going to increase how funny the joke is.

If I was a complete nerd, I could explain it in simple graph like this.

Now if you look at the Man You Man Could Smell Like ad…

This is arguably one of the funniest ads in recent times, you’ll notice it does exactly the same thing. It takes what we think we know about ads with aspirational spokespeople and twists the cliche tremendously. And the best gag is saved for the end, instead of the product ID and the tagline, you are hit with the incongruity of “I’m on a horse”.

Genius.