Humor in Repetition: It’s Funny, Then Not Funny, Then Really Funny

Have you ever noticed that sometimes a joke is funny at first, then not funny as it’s repeated more and more, then it gets really funny?

Someone recently pointed out how Seth Macfarlane uses this technique. He’ll have a character do something kind of dumb (but funny), and the character does it multiple times in a row. After a few times you start thinking, “Okay, that’s enough, move along.” But it continues, and soon you find yourself wondering, “Is this really still happening?” Suddenly you’re laughing again, even harder than the first few times.

I don’t completely understand it, but somehow it works. Just last week I was watching Macfarlane’s latest movie, A Million Ways to Die in the West, and there’s one point in the movie when he uses this type of humor. I was genuinely annoyed by after it went on too long, then somehow it turned and I found myself laughing out loud–a completely involuntary response.

Do you have the same response to this type of humor?

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