Woody Allen notably said that humor is derived from pain plus time. Yesterday, at the opening craft workshop of the 9th Annual KidScreen Summit in New York City, SVP of development and creative director at Cartoon Network Michael Ouweleen agreed in principle.
‘The laughs for kids come from their stresses, from the scary stuff that they have mastered,’ Ouweleen told the packed seminar appropriately entitled Bringing The Funny. ‘That is why poo and pee jokes are so funny to three-year-olds; they just mastered it, now they can laugh.’
An engaging and energetic speaker, Ouweleen is an authority on what is funny, considering his 12 years at Cartoon Network as well as his work as co-creator and executive producer on Adult Swim’s Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law.
The seminar detailed different levels of humor and their corresponding age appropriateness. For example, while three- to five-year-olds find simple, illogical things like a dog that meows funny, kids ages eight or nine are beginning to understand more subtle irony and aggressive humor.
‘Let’s face it, eight-year-olds are watching South Park,’ he said.
Ouweleen continued by citing legendary animation figure Chuck Jones, the creator of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd et al., and his reliance on character-based laughs.
‘Character reigns over everything,’ he said. ‘Chuck said ‘I have to think as Bugs Bunny, not of Bugs Bunny. That’s about as good advice as anyone can give in this field.’