The Imagination Institute is a Philadelphia-based non-profit dedicated to exploring imagination across society. One of its specific, yearly meetings is the "Comedy Imagination Retreat," and the organization recently released a video (below) featuring an interesting panel discussion from its August 2016 meeting.
The panel consisted of comedy professionals such as Aisha Alfa (actress and comedian), Cindy Caponera (actress, writer, and producer), Scott Dikkers (founder of The Onion), Kelly Leonard (executive director, insights and applied improvisation, Second City Works), Anne Libera (director of comedy studies, The Second City), and Bob Mankoff (cartoonist and former cartoon editor of The New Yorker), among others.
The participants discussed a wide variety of topics relating to comedy and imagination, such as "Does being funny lead to happiness?," "Is laughter a necessary component of comedy?," and "Where does comedy come from?"
Dikkers, for example, believes comedy comes from practice and the desire to put in the work for it.
“It’s not magic,” Dikkers said. “It didn't come out of nowhere. [Comedians] developed it and they practiced it, and they became masters. When you do something…if you do it for 10
years obsessively, you're going to be a master. I’ve seen that over and over with people.”
Dikkers' philosophy is that "consistent practice can create talent," and there are two myths about comedy.
"The first myth of comedy is that the genius sits down and writes brilliant comedy without (first writing) 19 jokes that failed," Dikkers said. "The second myth is completion, that the people who succeed in comedy are the ones with the talent. Not true. The people who succeed in comedy are the ones who complete it.”
Jason Hensel is a graduate of the DCH improv training program and performs with .f.a.c.e. and the ’95 Bulls.