6 Comedy Lessons that Chuck Jones Learned From Tex Avery

Click to read the entire piece written by Chuck Jones for the Sunday, August 31, 1980 edition of the Los Angeles Tribune.

Click to read the entire piece written by Chuck Jones for the Sunday, August 31, 1980 edition of the Los Angeles Tribune.

In this 1980 tribute to legendary animation director Tex Avery, fellow legendary director Chuck Jones shared six lessons that he learned about comedy from working with Avery in the 1930s. The advice remains essential to any animation director working today:

  1. You must love what you caricature. You must not mock it—unless it is ridiculously self-important, like the solemn live-action travelogues of that day.

  2. You must learn to respect that golden atom, that single-frame of action, that 1/24th of a second, because the difference between lightning and the lightning bug may hinge on that single frame.

  3. You must respect the impulsive thought and try to implement it. You cannot perform as a director by what you already know, you must depend on the flash of inspiration that you do not expect and do not know.

  4. You must remember always that only man, of all creatures, can blush, or needs to; that only a man can laugh, or needs to, and that if you are in that trade of helping others to laugh and to survive by laughter, then you are privileged indeed.

  5. Remember always that character is all that matters in the making of great comedians in animation and in live-action.

  6. Keep always in your mind, your heart and your hand that timing is the essence, the spine, and the electrical magic of humor—and of animation.

(via the Directed by Chuck Jones Tumblr)


  • moira

    and remember that all studios are run like Termite Terrace was. Nothing changes.

  • Pedro Nakama

    “You must respect the impulsive thought and try to implement it. You cannot perform as a director by what you already know, you must depend .on the flash of inspiration that you do not expect and do not know.”

    But the bureaucracy keeps wanting to change that!

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/JourneyTraveler NoahClue

    So when does Chuck Jones smash the cartoon tablets from Avery on The Mountain From What’s Opera Doc?

    These tactics definitely resonate with the emphasis on expression and motion in both directors’ films. All those Road Runner cartoons wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable without “loving what you caricature”. I’d be intrigued now to see the term “golden atom” become a staple of animation technique.

  • OtherDan

    That’s the stuff!

  • Pez

    “Remember always that character is all that matters ”

    I wonder how Avery felt about this in the MGM years. I personally think that he was not that interested in character as much as how a character could serve a gag.