Yesterday, I mentioned my old improv teacher told us there were only two ways to get a laugh. The first one was covered yesterday.
The second way to get a laugh (I was told) is reincorporation.
That could be as simple as a comedian harking back to a thing she introduced earlier in her routine. The second time she brings it up, the context has changed and this change makes us see the original thing in a new light, inducing laughter.
It doesn’t have to be a thing brought up in the routine. It could be a thing already in the consciousness of the audience.
If I parody a famous singer, as well as dropping the status of the famous person (satisfying, as mentioned yesterday) it’s also a type of reincorporation. You’ve heard it before, now I’m using it in a different way.
I’d say observational comedy falls into the reincorporation category. The comedian is making you see a thing that you’ve seen a million times before, but making you realise you hadn’t truly seen it until you saw it the way the comedian saw it.
I guess some musical comedy is a type of observational comedy. “Have you noticed (x) sounds like (y)?”
Maybe if you’re having trouble with a joke, it could be that you’re not lowering the status of someone or something (your target might not be one your audience can build hostility towards), or you’re not reincorporating, because you’re making an observation about a thing that’s not in your audience’s consciousness at the moment that it needs to be.
If you’ve been doing stand-up, this might be stuff you’ve already worked out, but hopefully I’m saying it in a way you may not have heard before.
Reincorporation without the laughs!
PS If anyone has anything to add to this, I would love to hear from you.