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Magazine Issue 80: comedy & learning
February 2017

This month: Thoughts about Comedy & Learning

Article: Comedy & Learning
BBC Comedy Classroom Resources
New Resources
Additional Resources

This Month's Article:

Comedy & Learning

Comedy & Learning An Article discussing comedy, humour and enhanced learning.

This is a Free Sample Resource

Categories: Article, Creativity, Educators

Tags: Comedy Humour Memory

What's Funny?
The Ontic-Epistemic Theory of Humour (OETC) proposed by P. Marteinson (2006) asserts that laughter is a reaction to a cognitive impasse, a momentary epistemological difficulty, in which the subject perceives that Social Being itself suddenly appears no longer to be real in any factual or normative sense*.

Was that introduction funny to you? If it was even mildly amusing, why was that? Unexpected? Confusing? Resolved when you realised the intent? (ironically complicated and unfunny) And have you even continued reading? Are you now finding it amusing that you're being questioned by a web page? Or that this point itself has just been made? Are you still there? Here? Wherever that is?

What is it and what's it for?
Theories of humour are as numerous as Michael McIntyre's observations on daily life. Models of what it is and what it's for combine ideas from sociology, psychology, evolution, yogurt-tasting computing and neuro-science. In general, we find something funny if it's surprising, unexpected, incongruent or completely out of place. Mashed carrot. Some types - such as slapstick - are pretty straightforward: Custard pie. Clown. Face. Laugh. Or: Plank of wood. Laurel. Hardy. Laugh.

Others require a lot more work, more maturity, extensive cultural awareness, patience and a willingness to be insulted for your inadequacies as a comedy audience. Stewart Lee.

Research Suggests
Research suggests that the right kind of humour can enhance well being and relationships. But what is the right kind of humour? In 2003, Weir et al. looked at this and identified 2 types, each separated in to 2 styles. The two types are Adaptive (helpful for growth) and Maladaptive (not). Each can be directed towards yourself or towards others. This gives us 4 combinations:

1. Adaptive-Self: Humour used to cope with stress, make light of challenging situations.

2. Adaptive-Others: Humour used to build relationships, ease tensions, entertain others.

3. Maladaptive-Self: Humour used to fit in with others, to express negative outlook.

4. Maladaptive-Others: Humour used aggressively to attack others - racist, sexist, -ist jokes.

Adaptive humour is not only good for your health (Ruch et al.**, 1994), it's good for your learning (Me et al.**, Today). Remember the mashed carrot from earlier? Improv. comedy especially has very strong links to the mechanics of memory and thinking. Often working from a blank slate and prompted by a single word, accomplished improv. comedy troupes entertain audiences for hours on end with performances that appear scripted and rehearsed. These folks do rehearse but when they do they are not learning lines. They are learning principles, learning to be fully attentive to others in the moment, and learning to have high levels of cognitive flexibility.

During a show, improv. comedians are making connections and associations, using imagery, listening for understanding, taking risks, creating stories and being active. Each of these features can enhance memory; each one can be applied directly in the more sober world of the school curriculum.

The BBC Comedy Classroom Literacy Project
The BBC has always had a mission to inform, educate and entertain us. An effective combination of all 3 comes in its Comedy Classroom project - inspiring school children to get involved with comedy writing. This is linked to Red Nose day and invites you to harness the power of your class joker(s). Entries are now open for 2017's competition.

BBC Comedy Classroom (Opens in a new window)

BBC Comedy Classroom Primary Resource pack (Opens in a new window)

BBC Comedy Classroom Secondary Resource pack (Opens in a new window)


**There are a lot of people called 'al.' who are all doing some very important research.

***Nope. You won't find *** anywhere in the text.

New Resources:

Surprise Thinking

Surprise Thinking A Thinking Skills Tool to stimulate new ideas and to unstick stuck thinking.

Categories: Thinking Tool, Creative Thinking, Creativity, PSHE, Secondary

Tags: Brain Break Surprise Creative Thinking
Free Standard Member Resource: Login or Join for Free to access this resource and others.

Surprise Thinking PowerPoint

Surprise Thinking PowerPoint A Thinking Tool Template in PowerPoint to support your use of Surprise Thinking

Categories: Thinking Tool, Creative Thinking, Creativity, PSHE, Secondary

Tags: Brain Break Surprise Creative Thinking
Teacher Premium Resource: Login or Upgrade to Teacher Premium to access this resource.

Humour Think Sheet

Humour Think Sheet A Think Sheet exploring the links between comedy and learning/memory.

Categories: Think Sheet, Other Subject, Junior

Tags: Humour Comedy Memory
Teacher Premium Resource: Login or Upgrade to Teacher Premium to access this resource.

Additional Resources:

Thinking Classroom Archive:

Humour for Learning

Humour for Learning An Article including one or two mediocre jokes, some thoughts about humour in the classroom and the neurological origins of a good laugh.

Humour is by far the most significant activity of the human brain. 
Edward De Bono

…be assured, the German sense of humour not only exists, it actually flourishes, albeit in a form we are ill-equipped to recognise.  
Stewart Lee

Humour: classroom learning essential or frivolous risky indulgence?

This is a Free Sample Resource

Find out more
Categories: Article, Teaching & Learning, Any Subject, Educators

Tags: Humour Relationships

Tips for Classroom Humour

Tips for Classroom Humour Teaching Tips for developing the productive use of humour for classroom learning. Includes Joke Wall criteria and a variety of links to relevant stand-up clips.

Categories: Teaching Tips, Teaching & Learning, Any Subject, Educators

Tags: Humour Relationships
Teacher Premium Resource: Login or Upgrade to Teacher Premium to access this resource.

Zen Thinking

Zen Thinking A Thinking Skills Tool for intuitive creative thinking.

Categories: Thinking Tool, Creative Thinking, Thinking Skills, RE & Philosophy, Junior, Secondary

Tags: Zen Intuition Archive
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The Upright Citizen's Brigade Comedy Improvisation Manual
Matt Walsh, Ian Roberts, Matt Besser

The Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Improvisation Manual <Br> Matt Walsh, Ian Roberts, Matt Besser Definitive guide to improv comedy. You might need to save up for this one.

Available from Amazon

Opens in a New Window
Categories: Suggested Books

Tags: Comedy Learning Humour Memory


BBC Comedy Classroom

BBC Comedy Classroom

Bring Comedy into the classroom for it's own sake and why ever not?!
"BBC’s Red Nose Day Comedy Classroom provides a brilliant framework for young people to explore comedy writing. "


Primary resources:

BBC Comedy Classroom Primary Resource Booklet, pdf


Secondary Students:

Secondary Resources:

Opens in a New Window
Categories: Websites

Tags: Comedy BBC

Next month we think about... Managing People