James Gillray,  Mendoza , 1788

James Gillray, Mendoza, 1788

I've always been a deplorable joke teller. I can start a joke good enough- just good enough to get everyone's attention, so they can wait and stare...by the time the punchline comes across I leave them dismayed, as if an awkward silence was the punchline. Same idea in sales and romance- always good at warming up the customer but hopeless at going in for the kill- always the lamb or the buffalo but never the fox.

Theorists have described the punchline as "the pivot on which a joke text turns...", the point of impact of two lines of text, related to a similar narrative yet incongruous with each other. The result is a shift in meaning, "the tipping point" of the story, the "Ah ha!"(flowed by "ha ha ha ha") of the mad scientist discovering something new.

We experience a similar pivot in direction in drawing when we experience the shift in inspiration, the moment we see what we want and decide to dedicate it to the page. This is followed by a subsequent, yet incongruous pivot, the shift of frustration, the moment we accept the fact we have missed the mark and identify with what we need.

These pivots in creative direction impact on each other creating punchline moments, with inspiration bursting through from frustration, frustration bursting the bubble of inspiration...etc. The impact of these punchline moments build in momentum over successive laps, the more we are beleaguered by frustrations, the greater the chortle of delight when we find a breakthrough and inversely, the more we create what we want, the greater the cry of despair as we grapple with further frustrations. This continues until our spin cycle hits it peak, a Van Gogh moment, with dynamic shifts in sentiment becoming characterised by hilarious laughter and hysterical tears.

So what we have with our punchline is not an end point but a moment of change, the pivot in a cycle of incongruity. If we want our punchline to have more impact we need to drive our punch with a little more force and this all comes back to the humble act of accepting our limitations- essentially being the butt of the joke.
And here we have the tragedy of comedy,

Does drawing help us to say better jokes... one can only hope (some things can't be saved). Perhaps, however, by linking tragedy to comedy what is clear is that the punchline does much to help drawing. For hear we have emotional responses at the peak and the pit of the creative process, set against each other, not as isolated outcomes of hilarity or despair but as


corresponding pivots in a creative process, building a dynamic of momentum, that swings from one idea to another. 

 To find out more check out the audio file below...