Iterations, focus groups, and failing fast — as seen from a comedic perspective:
I don’t write these shows. I just say them. But I’ve usually said everything 15 times. While I’m doing it, all the extraneous garbage comes out.
The Humor Index discusses movie audience research and shows some of the problems you get when you try to base a product on focus group results. Example: Fart jokes test through the roof but how many people really want an entire movie with nothing but fart jokes?
Steven Wright says he expects 80% of his new jokes to fail.
Flatulence jokes tested really well, too. [“School of Rock” writer Mike] White may have little problem with a certain amount of gross-out humor, but when is too much too much? “Any time someone rips one, the audience goes nuts, and that’s slightly depressing,” White says. “Even when they like it, you’re like, I didn’t make the movie for you. I don’t want the audience to tell me what I want to do. I want them to like it, but I want to lead it.”
The audience still won’t laugh at a joke unless they think it’s funny. I know that because I try out new jokes within my show, I slip some in here and there, and ever since the beginning, I’ve had a one-in-five, or one-in-four ratio. For every four or five I write, one will be good enough to stay in the act, and that’s still true even now…It’s a little awkward, but the only way you can get the new stuff is to go through that. It’s not horrifying, it’s just awkward, and you’re disappointed it didn’t work.