Public Domain Comedy!

I’ve just learned the Wonders of Public Domain Comedy! What is PDC, you ask? Read on my friends:


It’s ten degrees funnier inside.

Congratulations on entering the Public Domain Comedy Guide.

Before we begin, though, you should all take the Public Domain Comedy Oath:

I, (state your name), do solemnly swear to uphold the good name of Public Domain Comedy as fervently as I possibly can. I promise to use my comedy loudly in public places, thereby giving my material to others as freely as others gave my material to me. I promise to laugh loudly when others engage in a showing of Public Domain Comedy, thereby encouraging them in their quest to be funny and additionally showing others within earshot that Public Domain Comedy actually works. And finally, I promise not to use my Public Domain Comedy for monetary profit of any kind. To do so would be wrong and may guarentee me Middle Act status at any number of comedy clubs across the Midwest.

There! Now you’re in!

Do you feel funnier? You will!

Here’s a FAQ:

“What is Public Domain Comedy?”

Well, Billy, “Public Domain Comedy” can be defined as any joke or wisecrack that at one time in history was funny and original but has now been so absorbed into the mainstream that it is constantly accessed by even the most unfunny of people.

Did you know …?

That you have already had an opportunity to engage in Public Domain Comedy on this page? Did you spot it? Did you do it?

Well, if you, when taking the pledge, instead of actually stating your name said the phrase “State your name” and then chuckled to yourself …

Congratulations! You just dabbled in Public Domain Comedy!

You see, the “State Your Name” PD Joke was many years ago a funny and fairly original gag from the Bill Murray film, “Stripes.” However, the joke was a) funny enough and b) easy enough for most people to remember so that it disseminated itself throughout the schools, courtrooms and VFW halls across this fine land of ours.

And now that you know what it is …




Let’s learn some!

Chapter One: The Movies

Thanks to George Lucas and his sound enhancing invention THX, one of the most popular and surefire laughgetters for the non-pro is only a movie ticket away.

The “Turn It Up” Gag

Once the THX sound swell has reached its ear-splitting peak and faded out to silence, the adroit Public Domainer will yell out at the top of his lungs, “Turn it up!” Big laughs from fellow audience members are guarenteed.

Best delivery conditions: If the audience cheers the loudness level of the sound swell, the joke will land more solidly than an Olympic long jumper hitting a freshly raked pit of sand, provided the PDer waits until the cheers just begin to fade.

Worst delivery conditions: If the sound in the theater is actually not loud enough. In these cases, the joke can be misinterpreted as a complaint and, well, nobody likes a complainer. Use your judgement. A good PDer is always ready to analyse a comedy situation and react accordingly.

The “The Audience is Listening” Gag

When underneath the THX logo the phrase “The Audience is Listening” appears, the acting-enabled PDer will say in a questioning voice, “What?” Hearty chuckles and approving smiles from surrounding audience members can be counted on. (You may even receive validation from Neo-Luddites in the audience who feel that your joke was a strike against The Man for all this Surround Sound technology – see, sometimes PD Comedy can make you look smart too.)

Best delivery conditions: The louder the THX sound swell, the better this joke will hit. This is also a performance-dependent gag, so any rehearsal time spent refining your delivery will not be time poorly spent.

Worst delivery conditions: Same as “Turn It Up” gag. No one likes a whiner.

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