Want to be innovative? Be funny! | Peter Perceval | TEDxFSUJena



this great story about Stephen Hawking the famous astronomer he once met a comedian a stand-up comedy artist and the comedy artist asked him a question he asked him mr. Hawking am i right to suppose that actually what you are saying that there are parallel universes where you and I also exist and Hawking said in his characteristic voice yes it is so the comedian went on and he said well would it be possible that there's a universe where I am actually smarter than you and Hawking said yes it is and it is also possible that there is a universe where you are actually funny I'm telling you this because I think sense of humor is proof of intelligence and I'll tell you even more sense of humor is to me key to innovation and today I'm going to hand over those keys to you and I'm going to do so by linking neuroscience Jewish culture and a great cosmic joke so here we go first thing is laughing what's the secret about laughing laughing is proof of humor being present so we're wondering where this has come from and to show you just that I brought a small clip and you have to look at very carefully and let yourself go with it here we go it's little Michael having fun with a piece of shredded paper now first thing you notice is that you are laughing because little Michael starts to laugh so laughing is contagious it's in some aspects worse than flu and even worse than Ebola so the second thing is why is little Michael laughing now researchers have been breaking their heads about this for 3,000 years and notably philosophers have been thinking about it but of course as philosophers do they came up with no solutions and a lot of questions so then the last few decades neuroscience came into the picture and a fascinating book was written by these three gentlemen you're seeing Daniel Dennett Matthew Hurley and Reginald Adams they reviewed the research it's a most interesting to me it's a philosopher a computer scientists and psychologists sounds like the beginning of a joke but it isn't but they went to review the research and this is what they found out you're looking at this this is what's happening right now the inside of your skull this is not an animation this is a 3d image of an actual functioning human brain so what you see happening here is threads being formed change of cells being connected by electrical current and that is what makes meaning in our brain that is how we make sense of the world we're making connections in our brain and whenever a new connection occurs in between to feel of your brain that lie why the part you get a nervous reaction and that nervous reaction is laughing and laughing is there because it generates dopamine and the dopamine makes information travel ten times as fast through your brain as normal so laughing is a knowledge booster laughing is learning boost and it seems to be a trick of evolution to tell us that learning is very good for you and learning is pleasant and that's what they tell us when we go to school when we were young tell us you can have fun at school it'd be nice and all the other children and then they put us in buildings like these and they wonder why we're not laughing anymore so humor is proof of an aha moment in the brain and I thank the German language for creating this worthy aha a lateness the aha moment in the brain and that shouldn't surprises was haha is of course haha spelled backwards so this is fascinating because the element of surprise is actually what lies of the center of the joke so this mechanism occurring in the brain is mimicked by making jokes by what we do when we craft jokes a joke essentially is a story and I'll tell you one just to show you the dalai lama was visiting New York and he was a bit hungry so he looked around and he saw on Times Square he saw this vendor who had these tofu hotdogs and he went there he said hey I would like a hotdog and the vendor said yeah what would you like with it and the dalai lama being the dalai lama he said i would like a hot dog with everything so ha the vendor gave him a hot dog after with tofu and everything and the dalai lama handed him a hundred-dollar bill and the guy the vendor put the hundred dollar bill in his pocket and it our llama says hey don't I get some change and vendor said hey man change comes from within so there's a joke for you essentially it's the story and your brain being a prediction machine will try to foresee the outcome of the story you are associating about the Dalai Lama in New York and what he could be saying after that and so the story in your head goes straight forward and then I come around and I bend it over at some point to some point you're not expecting that's what a joke does so if we know all that why aren't we joking all day why aren't we doing all this all day well there's two problems of course a joke by definition by the waste constructing reality defies Dogma so any people who are in the course of dogmatic thinking they are bound to be offended by jokes and of course we didn't have to await the tragic events in Paris to see just that because people who do this profession people who are cartoonists people stand-up comedians all over the world from China to the USA from Egypt to Mexico are persecuted because of what they do because of how they reveal truth and the second problem is people say that making jokes is a question of talent you have to be born with it well is that so I don't think so let's look at some people who have this talent here we got Woody Allen here you have Mel Brooks and here you have Louis de Funes a French comedian for the somewhat older people among its you now they have something in common all three of them are Jews and it's interesting to see that at some point in career they all made fun of their own culture now am i saying that only the Jews possess the talent of humor no not at all because there's other ethnic groups that really have a joke culture for example the Irish have a very good joke culture very broad joke culture and in West Africa the the tribe of them–and Inga's are famous for their funny stories so it's not exclusive to the Jews but the Jews done something special they build a knowledge base around it they wrote about it they made these enormous companions and volumes about how to write jokes even this gentleman Sigmund Freud not really known for his comedy work shall I say he he wrote a book about the nature of the joke and how to make one so what you can say is that the Jews are very conscious about the force of the joke and 17 years ago I interviewed a rabbi in Antwerp about Jewish jokes and asked him what's the secret and he told me listen you might know that we have a rather wrathful God he's called Yahweh some people call him God others call him Allah he's a rather wrathful character and he gives us all these strange rules and in order to deal with those rules we make jokes because we have to learn how to deal with those rules in real life that's what a joke is about so a joke begins when there is injustice something illogical or something in truthful untruthful and a joke is a point of resistance against suppression that's what jokes are in Jewish culture now if we stand there we can say okay the Jewish notice can we learn this can we acquire this well I'm defying you yes you can so I'm gonna give you my three step methods that I use daily to craft jokes now I'm going to warn you before because as a famous British comedian once said Jimmy Carr he once said you know explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog nobody cares and in the end it's dead so take care practising your comedy reflex step 1 change your point of view so what you want is a straightforward story that bends over at some point and the point where you want the audience to arrive is the punchline and that is the aha moment that is the moment where the audience would say oh my god that's clever I never looked at it like that so that's why you want to go if you want to go there you have to start a story from a different point of view you have to mislead the audience with a setup that's growing somewhere completely else so you have to construct colliding stories you have to change your point of view now we can we can give you an example of that for example there's been a lot of aggravation in Germany about the the Greek point of view about repaying their debts understandably now you could say if we make a joke of that we have to change our point of view we have to put ourselves in the shoes of the Greek and if you do that you can you can fantasize about a meeting between the Greek Prime Minister and Angela Merkel and the Greek Prime Minister could say for example hey we have this great idea Angela to get some new funds we're gonna charge one euro to every politician that misuses three Greek words and angle I would say what Greek words are like oh it's simple democracy hypocrisy and chaos so that's a very simple joke with a change of point of view the second step you need to be aware of ambiguity because if you want to make a story that bends over and you want the audience to be with you at the end of the story at the punchline you need a point where you can turn around and that point is a word or something an object that can be that can exist in both stories but have a different meaning and that's a turning point we call it a connector this turning point and the connector can be anything for example if you go back to the Greek situation I once was talking to the Belgian Prime Minister the Belgian Minister of Finance and I said I told him I said listen I don't understand why we why we're so amazed that the Greek don't don't want to pay back their debt I said the Greek they have all these kinds of strange of traditions they for years now they have been making foreigners paid to visit their ruin so it doesn't work okay my son warned me for this well you need a turning point another turning point could be if we talk about the Greek situation yeah it could be well listen the Greek have a great tradition they brought us the Olympic Games but then it was a warning sign actually the Olympic Games what's the flag it's five zeros so that's an object having a meaning in both worlds now you might say in the third step is you have to exaggerate your imagination you have to really make it big you have to fantasize about real situations where this stories could happen so now you might say well if this is the case how is this going to help us in innovative thinking what's what's this about well I'll tell you the story of cosmic joke it is the story of this gentleman Albert Einstein he was a joker you know he also was Jewish of course and in the 1950s he once MIT Marilyn Monroe I don't know if you heard is he really did he he met Marilyn Monroe for the younger people in the house Marilyn Monroe is the Katy Perry of the 50s so Marilyn Monroe said mr. Einstein wouldn't it be great if we made a baby it would have your brain and my looks and I spine I said yes of course that would be interesting but what are we going to do if it grows up and it has my looks and your brain so it was it was a great Joker and he already was in 1919 when he started thinking about the theory of relativity and at the basis of the theory of relativity was something he did not understand something illogical in nature which was movement he said we were on planet Earth we're moving at 300,000 kilometers an hour and we are not feeling this we're not seeing this movement so he said movement if you look at it from different points of view it has different speeds how does that happen so you see the start of the theory of relativity is already the structure of a joke it has the basic structure of a joke it's a story bent over now in order for the story to work he had to find a turning point he had to find a connector and he went to see for it in physics and he found that Newton put down time as a fixed unit and through time we measure speed so he said well what if we looked at time not as a fixed unit but as an elastic unit as a as a collection of moments that can exist one after the other like a bit like a film paliku and even when it's part it's it makes movement together but when it's past it still exists let's look at time like this and then they started doing the math and that took about 10 years interestingly in those 10 years there was this person Karel Valentin bavarian comedian who made a joke about it he said it's great this new thing about time you don't need to watch anymore you just go out in the morning you look at the church and then you remember the time for the rest of the day and so the basis of this reasoning of einstein was the structure of a joke and after 10 years of calculations of course they found this formula now what it all leads up to in the end is that humor leads to new truth and therefore it is very important it is a very important value being funny it is a very important thing and I know we should not make inflation about new human rights but I would say that being funny is a fundamental human right and we should cherish it and we should protect it isn't it maybe we should go to the UN and ask to include it in the in the Declaration of Human Rights the right to be funny no because when there is no more humor there is no more thinking and that why it is so important to stay funny are you wanting to stay funny well go ahead thank you you

3 Comments

  1. Dr Astuce said:

    Really good content, should have more views

    July 19, 2019
    Reply
  2. gaudenxio said:

    Good talk, Anyone knows the name of the song played in very beginning of the video?

    July 19, 2019
    Reply
  3. LynxLee said:

    Makes sense

    July 19, 2019
    Reply

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