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Interview With Zach Weiner
Excerpt from interview:
There is always an element of mystery surrounding humor. I like this, because it gives funny people a minor superpower. Do you think humorists will always be rare, or will there ever be a funny kryptonite - a complete theory of humor?
I think professional humorists are rare mostly because of the economics of the system. Being a pretty good cartoonist won't get you a career unless you're really willing to hustle for it. In order to make a good living, you need to excel. This is the difference between humor writing and, say, writing software. In software, you get a lot of money if you're great, but you also do pretty well for yourself if you're just okay. A just okay artist will probably struggle his whole life.
In "Freakonomics" the authors described the economics of gang life as a "tournament," in order to explain why people risked their lives and freedom for minimum wage work (say, selling crack or protecting turf with a gun). The basic idea is this: if the prize at the top is big enough, and everyone can in theory get it, you'll have a system in which lots of people are willing to eat a lot of crow in hope of the top slot. Notwithstanding that your average webcartoonist is scared to leave the house (much less be in a gang), I think the situation is essentially analogous.
I'm referring here to "professional" humorists rather than to just "humorists" because by a certain definition, they are not rare at all. If you go to comicgenesis and drunk duck you'll find something like 50,000 people making jokes.
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