I recently thought to myself, “I’ve found the greatest list of premises of all time.” ¬†The next thought was, “What makes a great premise?”
Side note: How often do you conclude you’re awesomeness prior to establishing any metric to conduct awesomeness measurements? I press on.
It seems to help if a premise is relate-able or at least understandable. Accessibility is a good metric. Because, as Steven Martin would say, accessibility means more people and more people means more… money.
But premises sometimes also have a funny side all on their own, pre-punch. Absurdity seems to help. Something that immediately puts a picture in your mind. Something that offends the sensibilities, that runs amok with the established order of things, also seems to help.
In the tension-release model of generating laughter, the premise fills the balloon with air and the punch is the pin prick that pops the balloon. In this model, a laugh-generating premise is like when you blow so much air in a balloon that you slip a little and make a farty sound.
And I’m stopping this dialogue now for the same reason all things that are “an art, not a science,” are an art not a science: because I’m too lazy to take it to a scientifically drawn conclusion.
Here’s the complete list. ¬†It is a list of “weird news” that have been determined to not be “weird” any longer because the aggregator of weird news realized they happen too often to be “technically” “weird.” ¬†In other words, the perfect storm of “I get it” and “what the fuck?” that makes a great premise. ¬†Here are some of my favorites:
- 4. peace/brotherhood conference erupts into violence
- 7. family thinks he’s dead, but he’s not and attends his own funeral
- 17. burglar falls asleep during job.
- 25. older teacher/younger boy relationship
- 35. dog steps on gun, shooting the master
- 47. husband takes his wife back even though she just tried to kill him
- 49. hit-and-run driver drives on and on with body or bicycle in grille or windshield
- 58. elderly citizen trying to convince bureaucrat that, contrary to records, he’s not really dead
- 62. people trying to outrun police while driving slow-moving vehicles