The Nine Genres of Humor

As always, this is one man’s opinion, but as I see it, here are the styles… the types… the categories… the genres…

1. Awkward — The relatively new genre of cringe humor appears to be the hardest. Why? The challenge here is taking everyday events and making them look REAL. Shows like The Office (UK) and Curb Your Enthusiasmevince situations that appear so genuine not just because they display the mundane, trivial details of life but do it with characters that really do act that way. You could totally imagine things like that happening because they really do happen in real life. And the chances of hitting the mark are so minute. It’s like nailing the right note when you’re playing an instrument — the closer you are without being right on, the worse it sounds. Audiences are perceptive enough that they can easily sniff out phoniness. Some examples:

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Standup Comedy Devices: The Biggest Traps in Writing & Performing Standup Comedy

trapsI love pieces that break things down. Whenever I have an actor or a comedian or a psychologist or a philosopher on my podcast, I like the guest to be my Wikipedia entry for the topic that s/he knows. For example, when I had a psychologist on, I asked her to demystify the field for me. If I want to understand the lay of the land, where do I begin? What are the different types, the categories, the approaches? I feel like I can do that in standup comedy.

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How to Throw a Dope Indian Wedding

Dope_Indian_Wedding

My wife and I got married on August 1 in Austin, Texas. Over the course of the last 13 years, I’ve performed at hundreds of weddings, so I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. We did the standard Friday Night Sangeet, Saturday Day Wedding, and Saturday Night Reception. Here’s my advice on how to throw a dope Indian wedding. (A lot of it applies to non-Indian events, too.) Did I just use the word “dope”? Yes. Well, after all, my wife is a pharmacist.

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb

bombI’ve read a number of articles describing what it’s like to bomb onstage but very few that tell you what to do about it.  I’m going to leave out the general advice of “Be prepared” and “Know your audience” and rather focus specifically on the moment that you know you’re bombing.

If you’ve told one joke that didn’t work, that’s not bombing.  Bombing refers to times when you feel the entire crowd hates you and it doesn’t appear ANYTHING you say is going to work.  It ranks as one of the worst feelings on the planet.  Imagine the rejection you feel when you strike out with a girl at a bar.  Now imagine that 300 people all watched that happen – not in a funny way but in a real, exposed, vulnerable, awkward way.

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Why NY Rules & LA Sucks / Why LA Rules & NY Sucks

NYvsLAI’ve wanted to write this double-column for a while.  And I feel like I’m qualified to do so.  I have lived in Los Angeles for almost six years – in Marina del Rey (on the water), in Westwood (West Side), and in Studio City (the Valley).  I have visited New York over 200 times since the age of eight and have spent well over a year there in total, mostly splitting time between Manhattan and Brooklyn (though I’ve been to all five boroughs), sometimes for months on end, replete with a mailing address.  So, I’m going to write this in the first person for both entries.  And speaking of persons, the sections describing the people of both cities must come with a massive disclaimer:  any negatives may not necessarily be indicative of those indigenous to the region; after all, these are cities of transplants.  OK, now I can go about properly pissing everybody off.

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Things People Say

ThingsPeopleSayWhat’s a laundry list?

Do people really make a litany of things they need washed and dried? It’s a funny term if you think about it. And of course I thought about it. I Googled it and learned that it came from a bygone era when people did exactly that.

Now, I feel better. It’s good to at least be conscious about the terms I’m using. It got me thinking about other phrases people often use/misuse. My favorite has to be “intensive purposes.” I hear that all the time. “I mean, for all intensive purposes, it’s the same thing.” What’s an intensive purpose? It’s “intents and purposes.”

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Twenty Funniest People Ever

“Funny is what makes you laugh.” That’s the best definition of comedy I’ve heard. A comedian’s job is the world’s simplest?—?not the easiest?—?but the simplest. It’s three words: Make. People. Laugh.

So, how to measure who’s made me laugh the most?

Saturday Night Live recently spoofed Dead Poets Society and hilariously resurrected J. Evans Pritchard.

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How to Cancel a Party

CancelPartyYears ago, I’d planned a house party but sent out the following cancellation notice. It became quite popular so here’s a repost. Enjoy.


September 2005

West End, Cincinnati?—?Rajiv Satyal, 29, received a harrowing blow to his ego as he failed to generate turnout at his much-ballyhooed Episode III party.

Due to gathering some lethargic 42 responses, Mr. Satyal has decided to pull the plug and cancel the event. He has indicated that he’ll reschedule for October/November.

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Isn’t It Ironic? Don’t You Think?

“Yeah, I really do think.” I don’t think it’s ironic but I do think a lot. And so I thought about irony. On Friday, I dropped a blog post that, along with the rest of the city, predicted Carmageddon, an event that was to back up traffic all over Los Angeles.

It didn’t happen.  Was it a hoax?  No, it wasn’t Y2K.  The Year 2000 bug truly seemed to be a hoax because it doesn’t stand to reason that ALL companies fixed ALL systems just in time to avert disaster.  It was illogical.  I remember airlines even stating they were only 95% ready.  And I never knew if that meant that 95% of flights were going to make it to their destinations or that all flights were going to make it 95% of the way.  Neither seemed comforting.

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Defining Greatness

great2“I’m great.”  That’s a standard response whenever you ask someone, “How are you today?”  It’s kind of funny that we throw around the word “great” so easily.  Of course, in this context, it’s an acceptable response.  No one actually means “I’m the best in my field.”  It would be cool to assume that’s what the person meant, though.  Be like, “Really?  You’re great?  What’s so great about you?  Jeez.  All I was doing was inquiring about how life is treating you and then you get all cocky on me?”  Most likely, he’d rapidly walk away, in a great hurry.

So, we use “great” a lot.  It is a universal concept. Though maybe it does say something about the hemispheres’ value systems that the Great Soul in the East (Mahatma Gandhi) is a man who led India to freedom and The Great One (Wayne Gretzky) in the West is a hockey player.

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11 Reasons Your 30s Kick The Crap Out of Your 20s

30vs20I turned 30 nine years ago tomorrow.

When I was 17, I did what people told me.  No, wait.  That was Janet Jackson.

When I was 29, I didn’t want to leave my 20s.  I loved that decade.  But with one year left in my 30s, I can tell you that this set of ten years has been far superior to my last set.  Here’s why:

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Ten Reasons Football Is America’s Best Sport

footballI’ve come a long way (forwards or backwards, I’m not sure) since my high school days of when I knew the score of every single NFL game over the weekend. I don’t follow sports nearly as closely anymore as my journey of self-absorption continues in earnest.

Yes, yes, of course, the problems surrounding football are real. But in this post, I choose to focus on the positive. Here are the top ten reasons football is the best sport in the country:

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The Best Day of My Life

bestdayWhen does a day begin?

We normally think of a day as when we wake up to when we go to sleep.  Day and night are two different entities, but the night technically is part of a day.

For this story, I’m going to go with the 24-hour period from 3 am on December 6 to 3 am on December 7.  Why was it so great?  I got engaged!  Here she is… and yes, I call her “she” throughout the body of this piece for stylistic reasons.

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Rape’s Cause B

Cause B = Cosby.
Cause B = Cosby.

This may not be PC.  Or literally, it may be.  As in, calling Bill Cosby a “rapist” doesn’t make you a “racist.”

FIRST OF ALL, EVERYTHING’S TRUE

I know some people are waiting for Bill Cosby to be formally charged with rape.  But to them, I have a question:  Have widespread allegations against an individual in our society ever, ever turned out to be false?  Bill Clinton absolutely committed adultery.  Lance Armstrong absolutely doped.  And Bill Cosby absolutely drugged and raped women.  One person’s word against another is one thing.  Many people’s words against one is another thing altogether.  There is no reasonable way to believe that all of these women are simply making this up.  To what end?  How would they coordinate their stories?  Why would they expose and potentially embarrass themselves and their families all these years later?  It’s not only more likely than not that Cosby committed rape (the civil trial standard), but also it’s beyond a reasonable doubt (the criminal trial standard).  Public opinion is the court here and Cosby has been indicted.  Speaking of courts…

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Why LeBron James Really Returned to Ohio

Maybe because Ohio is kind of an awesome place.

Ohio

I read LeBron James’ letter in Sports Illustrated the day it dropped.  I found it interesting that LeBron James kept using the prefix “Northeast,” as in, “I was a kid from Northeast Ohio” or “My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball” or “What’s important to me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio.”

And then I realized that I think of Ohio not parceled into four quadrants but rather as one entity – precisely because I live so far away from it.  Like LeBron, I myself left the state to further my own career, relocating to California in 2006, though he’s met with slightly more success so far.

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Nineteen Ninety-Four

1994Today is my 20-year high school reunion.

When I graduated high school in 1994, I thought that graduation night would be the last time I’d see most of the people I’d met during my 18 years in the Fairfield City School District.

I was fortunate enough to be the one to give our Commencement speech.  Of course, I threw in a lot of comedy.  But I also took the responsibility very seriously, trying to drop as much knowledge as I could, only to be mostly outdone by my own fumbling over the word “success,” thereby advising my 488 classmates “be gracious in your sex” (the loudest cheers of the night) and the din of the plethora of Snapple caps smuggled in by some of the more seedy (and fun) element of our class.

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How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

KeepNewYearResolutionsI’ve meditated everyday for the last two years. And this year alone, everyday, I did yoga, wrote, drank 80 ounces of water. I also became an informed citizen, expanded my musical knowledge, got ahold of my biggest nemesis (my email inbox), got into the best physical shape of my life, read four books, and stopped myself from saying the word “like,” like, every other sentence, like. How’d I do it? Read on.

For the last two years, I’ve run a social experiment?—?the Year of The Hustle. I’ve been making resolutions for over 20 years and this is the only method that’s worked for me. 2014 was the best professional and personal year of my life?—?and 2015 was even better.

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Rajiv Satyal is a Los Angeles-based comedian, host, and speaker. You’re welcome to hit the orange button below to hire Rajiv, interview Rajiv, seek Rajiv’s comedic advice, give Rajiv a piece of your mind or to sign up for Rajiv’s monthly newsletter. His newsletter will let you know ahead of the general public when he’s in your area for a show. He also includes the five funniest things he sees each month. So it’s good for a laugh. Or five.

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