Friday, August 28, 2009

Idiots don't write comedy

Sure, two guys kicking each other in the butt is funny for most people ... for about two or three seconds. Anybody could write a script for that.

But real comedy, the kind of stuff that people will still find to be funny decades, even centuries later -- think the best of Aristophanes or Shakespeare -- is the fruit of genius.

So don't be surprised that the author of this fascinating article below is the same fellow who brought you Monty Python:

"I was a history teacher for ten years and I enjoyed it very much indeed. But today's educational trends, which focus on specific metrics of accountability, represent a fundamental change in mind-set that demands some pretty astounding creativity on the teacher's part.

I've been interested in what makes people creative ever since I started writing forty years ago. My first discovery was that I would frequently go to bed with a problem unsolved, and then find in the morning not only that the solution had mysteriously arrived, but that I couldn't quite remember what the problem had been in the first place. Very strange.

Then I came across research done at the University of California at Berkeley in the 1970s by Donald W. MacKinnon. He had examined what made people creative, and he found that the professionals rated "most creative" by their colleagues displayed two characteristics: They had a greater facility for play, meaning they would contemplate and play with a problem out of real curiosity, not because they had to, and they were prepared to ponder the problem for much longer before resolving it. The more creative professionals had a "childish capacity" for play -- childish in the sense of the total, timeless absorption that children achieve when they're intrigued."

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