Ok, here are the other ideas. Some overlap a little but you'll get the point.
1. No one gets hurt. Think about the funniest movies you’ve ever seen. Buildings may fall one the actors, they may be right next to an explosion, have cement poured on their heads, catch on fire, and then walk away and brush it off and say something like, “Man that’s going to hurt in the morning." It’s never funny when someone gets hurt for real.
2. Misunderstandings. This is huge in romantic comedies. The guy thinks the girl is thinking one thing, she thinks he's thinking something else. The situation becomes more and more absurd, not just because they misunderstand each other, but because the audience doesn't misunderstand. We see the big picture, we're in on the joke and since we see what's coming. The anticipation of the encounter between the to people is what we look forward to. I think that’s what makes it so funny.
3. Irony and parodies. The secret to using parodies is that the person listening to the story has to know the original story or else the parody isn’t funny. They just don’t get it.
4. Physical humor. Watching movies from other cultures and seeing their comedians is really eye opening. It doesn't seem funny to Americans. It’s almost all exaggerated body language and clowning around. To us, it seems like they’re trying to be funny or acting childish. The early days of TV and lots of our children's programming rely almost entirely on physical humor and silly body language. However, we loved Kramer on Seinfeld and the early antics of Jim Carrey. So there you go. Maybe we're ready for physical humor again.
5. Callbacks. You’ve seen this with comedians. They do a routine early on and then later, they refer back to it and we laugh. I'm not exactly sure why this bit works, but id does. And when it does, when it's done well, it's hilarious.
Finally, a few things that are not funny:
- Making fun of someone other than yourself is not funny.
- Sarcasm is not funny.
- Someone trying to be funny is not funny. In fact, there’s nothing less funny than someone who is trying to be funny.
- Off-color jokes are not funny.
- Puns are not funny. At least not usually. We don’t like investing our interest in something that ends up being an intellectual gimmick.