Masks of Comedy and Tragedy
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Is comedy a science or an art?

How do comedians come up with funny lines? Is it a science or an art?

"Quite often I work backwards from the punch line", Tim Vine recently told the Today programme.

But other comedians work differently.

Paul McCaffrey admitted he picks out what he thinks is funny and then works it into a point at which he thinks the audience will laugh.

"The trick is to try and make it look as spontaneous as possible. You want the audience to believe that this is something that you're saying and thinking for the first time there and then," he added.

Stand-up comedian, actor and writer Tiff Stevenson hones her act in a similar way, explaining that "I work at how I feel about something and then I find the funny within that."

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Friday 22 August.

  • 22 Aug 2014