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What Is It That Makes Louis C.K.’s Jokes Work?

Should you ever want a unique perspective on any number of varying topics, you need only to browse the videos of Evan Puschak; The Nerdwriter. His YouTube channel, as we’ve often explained, offers his special brand of insight on a multitude of topics ranging from the meta concept of Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige to the reality of how taxes are spent.

In his latest video essay, Puschak deconstructs how comedian Louis C.K. tells jokes. Well, one joke in particular. This one:

It’s explained that the joke is a relatively short one for the comedian. Just over 200 words and lasting only about a minute and a half. But it’s what C.K. is able to do in that time with those words is incredible. Not a single word is wasted in it as he explains that he plays Monopoly with his daughters and how one isn’t entirely mature enough to grasp the concept of losing the game. Puschak points out how the joke works so well, in part, due to how our expectations are set up in the beginning. We’re expecting the brutal punchline because we’re reminded of how brutal the game of Monopoly can be. Additionally, CK is a pro at tagging a joke and pausing long enough to let each settle–thus pulling us in deeper to his story–which accentuates the larger point of the punchline when it comes.

There’s also the larger point, Puschak points out, that C.K.’s joke is also commentary to how closely the ruthlessness of Monopoly is to real life when it comes to money and debt. Yes, Louis C.K. is telling a joke but there’s a feeling you get from watching how he tells it that he seems to fundamentally dislike having to put his children through a brutal game that will, eventually, become real.

Think Nerdwriter’s deconstruction makes sense? Does anyone really ever remember Monopoly fondly? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

Image: Louis C.K.  Live at the Beacon Theater


Also, how well do the jokes translate into Wookiee?

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