Ask A Genius 327 – Comedy Change

In-Sight Publishing

Ask A Genius 327 – Comedy Change

October 21, 2017

[Beginning of recorded material]

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How has comedy changed for now compared to the past? How will this change the future of comedy as well?

Rick Rosner: Well, I mean the biggest change applies to all information and media and entertainment and it’s just the sheer volume and variety available. I read someplace that people in the 17th century, 18th century maybe only had two books in their houses; the Bible and Pilgrim’s Progress.

Similarly somebody on a farm; how many jokes would that person hear a hundred years ago in the course of a week? Two?  Maybe goes to town, hears a couple jokes?  Three? I don’t know. Now the average joke consumer, say somebody  who watches late-night TV is going to see  at least twenty-five jokes a  night, somebody goes on Twitter looking  for jokes can read hundreds a day, will  see The Good Place comes back tonight; it’s  the sitcom set in heaven, you watch a  sitcom and a decent sitcom will  give you 40 jokes in 22 minutes, just  people today have heard a gazillion  jokes, people also have more information  about which we can joke than Johnny Carson could joke about in  the 1970s.

Carson’s writers wrote off the teletype, they had an AP news feed that was this automatic typewriter the go [mimics typewriter sound], it would spit out a big roll of paper with the stories of the day and those guys would see those stories and they would…  largely, guys, I don’t know how many women worked on the Tonight Show writing staff, but it was less than half a dozen or fewer than that. But anyway, they were writing off 20 stories they got from the news maybe somebody brought in newspapers but the number of different things that could be joked about or smaller because people have less information.

So, what the future holds is more volume, I mean Twitter has empowered thousands of people who wouldn’t otherwise be writing jokes to be writing jokes and the other social media encourages other forms of humor. So, you’ll have more people doing, you’ll have faster delivery and you’ll have a greater informational basis for the jokes.

Also, there’s been an erosion of taboos where I don’t know how much farther it can go but you can joke about anything, where in the past you had to watch what you joked about because some things were improper. Now you can joke about anything, any subject you can manage to think of to joke about. Now with taboos gone and everything permitted everything’s been kind of colonized or exploited for jokes and it’s tough to come up with new areas. That’s about it.

[End of recorded material]


Rick Rosner

American Television Writer


Rick Rosner

Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing


In-Sight Publishing


[1] Four format points for the session article:

  1. Bold text following “Scott Douglas Jacobsen:” or “Jacobsen:” is Scott Douglas Jacobsen & non-bold text following “Rick Rosner:” or “Rosner:” is Rick Rosner.
  2. Session article conducted, transcribed, edited, formatted, and published by Scott.
  3. Footnotes & in-text citations in the interview & references after the interview.
  4. This session article has been edited for clarity and readability.

For further information on the formatting guidelines incorporated into this document, please see the following documents:

  1. American Psychological Association. (2010). Citation Guide: APA. Retrieved from
  2. Humble, A. (n.d.). Guide to Transcribing. Retrieved from

License and Copyright

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at and


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, Rick Rosner, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, Rick Rosner, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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