Chimps, dirt, playing, sticks

Few people connect and dissect words and phrases as carefully as comedians. Jerry Seinfeld gives us a glimpse of his joke-writing process in a new profile by the New York Times magazine.

The story and video offer terrific details. Seinfeld writes jokes on yellow legal pads and uses Bic pens, clear barrel with blue ink. “I’ve never shown anybody this stuff,” he says.

I particularly enjoyed the analysis of his Pop Tart joke. The introduction of Pop Tarts, when he was a kid, was so illuminating, it was like “chimps in the dirt, playing with sticks.”

“What makes the joke,” he said, “is you’ve got chimps, dirt, playing and sticks. That’s seven words; four of them are funny.” If a joke is too long, “you’ll shave letters off of words, you count syllables, to get it just (right) … it’s more like songwriting.”