Benjamin Ragheb (benzado) wrote,

Going to Chomskytown

Noam Chomsky used the following two sentences to illustrate the idea that some form of grammar is built into the human brain:
  1. "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously."
  2. "Furiously sleep ideas green colorless."
Both are completely meaningless, but Sentence 1 feels more correct than Sentence 2. Chomsky observed that all human languages have some features in common even among societies that arose independently. We may put our subjects before or after our verbs, but we all have subjects and verbs.

I think this idea relates to the idea of "going to crazy town" in comedy and improvisation specifically. Some crazy scenes are painful to watch, and some crazy scenes make your gut hurt from laughing so hard. What's the difference? I think that the crazy stuff is only funny when it adheres to a structure, so that the madness makes sense within its own world.

A bunch of random talking objects shouting at each other is not funny --- unless they are guests at the wedding of the dish and the spoon and a fight has broken out.
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