Sacred and Profane


There's a basic theory of comedy that coupling the sacred with the profane is usually a good way to find the funny.



As Writers’ Room Guru Brent Forrester puts it: “Most jokes have at their core, a contrast between the sacred and the profane.”


The High and The Low in contrast:
Religion, old people, babies, funerals...
...combined with sex, the toilet, violence, rock and roll etc. etc. etc.

So for example, urban hip hop breakdancing (PROFANE) cute babies (SACRED) -- is funny.
(like in ‘that’ water advert).
Z


They’re also a good way of generating moments of super nobility
(angelic choirs singing hymns on mountain tops)

or super evil...
(illuminated advertising street bins).

I’m trying to keep lists of The Sacred and The Profane, and bank them all right here.


SACRED



Old People
Funeral
Classical music
Statue
War hero
Nobel prize
Literature
Archaeology
Babies
Pregnant Mums
PROFANE



Rock star
Porn Star
Fly hole
Faeces
Noise
Pollution
Drugs
Thieving
Urine
Blow job

SACRED



Infant school
Teacher
Recycling
Saving energy
Sterilizer
Royalty
Princess
Prince
Queen
King
PROFANE



Spying
Secrets
Exhaust
Goths
Bikers
Motorcycles
Debt
Cess pit
Portaloo
Loud music


SACRED


(Michael Landon/Angel)

Clergy
Bishop
Priest
Angels
Choir
Art Gallery
Library
Museum
Playground
Church
PROFANE


(Tattoo of Michael Landon = Sacred and Profane)

Skid mark
Brown mud
Fertilizer
Bad smell
Prolapse
Colostomy bag
Flood
Tattoos
Soot
Smoke


SACRED


(Golden/Model)

Golden
Head Office
Hymen
Fashion model
Catwalk
Nature
Summer’s day
Breast milk
Humanity
Rose petals
PROFANE


(Golden/Model+Toxic = Sacred and Profane)

Toxic chemicals
Explosion
Bombing
Bulldozer
Prison
Ink stain
Bottom
Guns
Robots
Thorns


SACRED


(Soil/Earth/Loam)

Grandparents
Birth
Progress
Hardback Novel
Poetry
Opera
Nursing
Toddlers
Soil
Cottage
PROFANE


(Translation: Garbage Truck)

Abortion
Ban
Video game
Advertising
Jingle
Swearing
Skyscrapers
Rubbish Truck
Wrought Iron
Sponsorship

So a Virtual Grandparent Video Game is sacred & profane,
double sacred is a hardback poetry book, or toddlers making progress,
and sponsorship on a rubbish truck is doubly profane...


SACRED

Mountain tops
Backing singers
National costume
Nursery rhymes
Cycling
Family love
Romantic love
Shared experience
Self respect
Love of humanity
PROFANE

Baseball caps
Banking
Brick viaducts
One night stand
Torture
Illuminated advert dustbins
Soiled hands
Sauce
Fast food
Boardroom

So from these wrongs... a family hug in a boardroom, a burger and chips up a mountain top, a group shared moment of torture...
Doubly profane, having a one night stand on an advert dustbin...
doubly good, backing singers on a mountain top and the bicycle made for two.



(A carpark. Profane.)



Nursery
Love which endures
Philanthropy
Paddle boats
Crops
Silence
Brotherly love
Home cooking
Cancer survivor
School project


Annual results
Mega-trucks
Tobacco
Litter
Conveyor belt
Multi-storey carpark
Jumbo 747
Toilet paper/tampons
Serial Killer
Reality shows


So... from these tiny lists, sacred and profane:

A reality show set in a nursery (which C4 are doing with "Secret Life of 4 Year Olds")
Loving a serial killer (death row dames)
Giving away free toilet paper
and
School projects to grow the best tobacco.




A toddler (sacred) who is a pig (profane) makes the Babe stories and films (Sacred and Profane).



Palace
Ice sculpture
War monument
Paralympics
Native Americans
Children's books
Intensive Care Unit
Green Power
Organic
Raw fish


Spray paint
Industrial park/units
Vomit
Cheap booze
Reduced price
Mobile phone masts
Loyalty cards
Cracks/Cracked
Diggers
Open All Night



An accoustic song (Sacred) to a dad (family love = Sacred) about a JCB construction digger (Profane).

The JCB Song




Ancient Latin/Greek
Affection
Flame
Old Trees
Viola
Fountain pens/Quills
Grand Canyon
Perfect Meringue
Seeds and berries
Playful flirting


Construction site
Electric Guitar
Illuminated hoardings
Chernobyl
Land mines
Nightclubs
Pigeons
Cheating
Dirt Bikes
Pollution




Slash from Guns and Roses playing heavy metal solo on an electric guitar (profane, profane, profane) outside, in Church grounds, on a mountain top (sacred, sacred, sacred).



In tune
Chicks
Medicine
Opera House
Vets
World Championships
Olympics
School Trip
Harvest
Baby items


Pepper-spray
Loudspeakers/Megaphone
Murder
Cockroaches
Motorway
Self-interest
Grotesque
Bricks
Dissolution
Out of tune




Photo of a rock (natural = Sacred) with an LED light embedded in it (technology = Profane)
Or... is it light (Sacred) coming from something hard and dark (Profane)



Waterfall
Children's ward
Princess
Magic Wand
Fairies
Interests of the group
Choir
Floral tribute
Home-made
Juice


Bars
Heavy machinery
Fluorescent
Tumour
Alarm
Alloy
Face mask
Napalm
Booze
Plastic



Breaking Bad: about a chemistry teacher (Sacred) making drugs (Profane).

Or... "A terminally ill (Sacred)
chemistry (Sacred)
teacher (Sacred)
teams (Sacred)
with a former student (Sacred)

...to manufacture (Profane)
crystal meth (Profane)
to ensure (Profane)
his family's future. (money = Profane)



Cells
Survivors
Peat
Newsletters
The 3 women from the Blurred Lines video
Aid workers
Romantic verse
Mathematics
Children's hospital
Desert Island


The Man
Car Parts
X-ray
Non-stick
Party
Divorce
Sewage
Security
Bricks
Dismembered bodies




"The pie" from the Oscar winning film, The Help.

Homemade cooking (Sacred)... and its "special ingredient". (Profane)



Algebra
Clean page
Brain / The server
Honey
Your name
Science
Blank canvas
Heart surgeons
Robes
Poetry


Mass-produced
Holocaust
Street bins/dog poop bins
Rats
Stripping
Rust
Mortar
Overpass
Malfunction eg backfiring or itching
Burlesque




(Do It On My) Twin Bed

Doing it (sex = Profane)
...in your childhood bedroom (family home = Sacred)





Petals
Musical instruments
Fate
Hero
Fluffy
Grandma
Snow
Faith
Wind
Little


Prisoners
Buttocks
Yellow lines
Sex offenders register
Ebola
Lift shafts
Police "Do Not Cross" tape
Dust
Propaganda
Marketing





Ice Road Truckers.

Ice (nature = Sacred)
Road Truckers (Profane)



Grain
Logs
Long hair
Cotton
Honey
Whalesong
Crown
Scientific formulae
Sleep
The BBC


Hit men
Consultants
Papparazzi
Sex worker
Traffic warden
Loan shark
Critics
Wrestlers
Burger flipper
Executives




Snow White.
Princess/Royalty (Sacred) in a coffin/death (Profane)



Grass
Rose
Originality
Defender
Rock
Ice
Rest
Theatre
Hay
Fish


Proctologists
Credit card
Wiring
Airports
Disguise
Bottom
Car
Death
Fast food packaging
Prison Van




The imagery of Stephen Hawking

Brilliant mind and profound Science (Sacred)
...conveyed through a robot voicebox (Profane)



Reading
Friendship
Dreaming
Long-Term
Cows
Sleep
Whispers
The Moon
Sky
Prize


Trust
Family home
Laughter
Community
Making love
Promise
Cwtch
Accents
Naked
Medal




Steptoe and Son playing scrabble

Funny memorable sitcom scene.

Family game (Sacred) vs. Profanities (Profane)

Language (Sacred) vs. Point scoring at all costs (Profane)



Contribution
Whip round
Smile
Milk
Water
School Play
Hospice
Fatherhood
Village
Clouds


Road markings
Hide
Trading
Accident
Diesel
Used Car salesmen
TV studio
Sick
Corrugated
Multi-storey


Kitten rolling itself up like a Transformer.



Kitten (sacred)



...folding up into Autobot mode (profane)




Sacred and Profane.



Rememberance
Shower
Planting
Chess
Kiss
Holidays
Christmas
Beach
Sea Gull
Warmth


Crush
Cables
Hunters
Freezer
Terms and Conditions
Hairy
Motorway
Bum
Tupperware
Pig




Dogs pooing in the back of family photos.

At first sight, it looks like
Family photos (sacred) vs. Excretion (profane)

But it could also be...

Natural behaviour (sacred) vs. Posing (profane)

Dogs (nature=sacred) vs. Photography (technology=profane)

There's a whole load of them online.



Zen
Reading
Help
Cheyenne
Suburban
Prayer
Turf
Slow
Cottage
Order


Copying
Trucking
Boasting
Baubles
Kazoo
Yelling
Whiteboard
Pride
Air bags
Facebook





I'm finding it really difficult to get hold of any more "Sacreds"
- got loads of profanities, for some reason.

So before that well runs completely dry... behold...



Competition winners meeting a Lakers cheerleader

You know it's wrong.
You know it's really funny.
But what is it?

Family photo (sacred) vs. advertising (profane)

or

Pristine (sacred) vs. messy (profane)

or

Real life (sacred) vs. marketing image (profane)

or

Feminine (sacred) vs. Male (profane)

Who cares, there are bunches more here





Cloth
Inscription
Traditional
Silk
Bishop
Face
Kitchen
Musical
Female
Meadow


Gutter
Execution
Electrolarynx
Miserliness
Short-Term
Projector
Adornments
Rusty
Whip
Greed



Oh Lord, won't you buy me, a Mercedes-Benz

Prayer (sacred),
Oh Lord (sacred)...

with
... Buy me (profane),
a luxury brand car (profane, profane, profane)



Fresh
Hair
Hug
Book
Space
Egg
Heaven
Fruit
Laughter
Drift


Jealousy
Anger
Lust
Laziness
Forgetting
Boxing
Zimmer Frame
Photography
Mould
Outlet



Dad's Army



Old people (sacred) as fighting soldiers (profane)

Meeting in a Church (sacred) to battle the Nazis (profane)

In a sleepy seaside town (sacred) during World War II (profane)



Baby food
Fabric
Fluffy
Caress
Pattern
Brother/Sister
Tradition
Pastel
Beauty
Geyser


Shootout
Nazi
Contraception
Matt
Supersize
Power station
Filth
Warrior
Consumer Goods
Disorder




Poetry on estate agents boards

From this brilliant article by Ariane Sherine.


Basically, turns out there's a guy in Kentish Town (near where I grew up in London)...
and he puts his poetry up on estate agents boards outside his house.

It's lovely, and Sacred and Profane.

Poetry (sacred) plus Estate Agents (profane)
Art (sacred) plus Advertising (profane)

Sacred and Profane is a theory that art is more powerful when two ideas from the worlds of the Sacred and the Profane are combined.

So this is it.

My very last list of Sacred and Profane.

And I've ended up with loads more Profanes than Sacreds.

I can't even put them in a nice table box, so here they are as a scrappy list.



Valley
Gift
Song





Muck
Vanity
Scratched
Scowl
Processed food
Discharge
Chains
Fad
Spree
Neon

Wages
Sudden
DJ



Old Spice Muscle Man Music



There's a theory that when you combine the Sacred with the Profane, you conjure up scenes which are even more powerful, compelling or funny.

Here is the Old Spice Muscle Music.



You could look at it as a combination of:

Music (Sacred) and Bodybuilding (Profane)
Or
Music (Sacred) and Technology (Profane)
Or
Music (Sacred) and Shouting (Profane)

And "Flame Sax!" is
Instrument (Sacred) and Flamethrower (Profane)
Or
Fire (Sacred) and Saxophone (Profane)

Anyway, I've spent most of tonight shooting my first Sacred and Profane videos - and I noticed that I put a whole list of sacreds into a list of profanes... so here they are extracted as my final list of sacred and profanes before the first big draw of random combinations next weekend.




Trust
Family home
Laughter
Community
Making love
Promise
Cwtch
Accents
Naked
Medal
Signature


Angry voice
Actor/Actress
Engineer
Paint
Falling over
Dirty
Lottery
Punk
Racism
Demon
Kill




Heartlake City, from Lego Friends

There's a theory that you get more powerful artistic ideas when you combine the sacred with the profane.

Like the home to Olivia, Andrea, Emma, Mia and Stephanie... the Lego Friends.

Heartlake City

Heart (sacred) lake (sacred) City (profane)

In a couple of weeks I'll start the weekly draw to combine different sacreds and profanes, but first I need the sacreds on cards to pull from the hat. (It won't be a hat. At the moment, in my head it's two Jiffy bags... but just thought I could get something better. Like a helmet for the profanes. And er, something nice for the sacreds. A sea grass basket. Or a leaf bowl.)

Anyway, here is every sacred I came up with last year.

Except my action camera cuts itself out after 25 minutes.
It's a Ricoh feature, that I only realised after 40 minutes.
Most of them are on here, so you get the jist.

My list of every sacred word for the Sacred and Profane weekly draw






Jerry Seinfeld's Pop Tarts Routine

Jerry Seinfeld talks about how he writes a routine, but the Pop Tarts one he uses as an example has lots and lots of sacred and profane combinations:

Jerry Seinfeld Interview: How to Write a Joke | The New York Times



as a kid (childhood=sacred) back of head blowing off (disfigurement=profane)

orange juice (sacred) hack at with a knife (profane)

committing a murder before you got on the school bus (sacred and profane)

wrapping your lips (sacred) around a wood-chipper (profane)

chimps (sacred) in the dirt (profane), playing (sacred) with sticks (profane)

I've now written out all my Profanes - it doesn't feel right calling them profanities, because words themselves are Sacred.

Here they are ready for the first draw week after next, I think

My list of every profane word for the Sacred and Profane weekly draw - Part One




The Good Life

On the surface it looks like...

Civilization (Sacred) disrupted by Farmyard noises and smells (Profane)
Or Being comfortable (Sacred) VS. Being miserly and struggling (Profane)


But the genius of it as an idea for a sitcom (or even drama) series is that maybe, instead, it could be seen as...

The Countryside (Sacred) VS. Surburbia (Profane)

Or

Living off the Land (Sacred) VS. The Rat Race, and Working for The Man (Profane)

Anyway, here is the final list of profanities that have gone into the profane pile.
I should work out Sacred and Profane containers for these.
Maybe a food bowl for the Sacreds, and a potty for the Profanes.
I think I'm definitely going to do that. I hope I remember.
Remind me if I forget.


My list of every profane word I can think of for the Sacred and Profane weekly draw - Part 2





Ween - The HIV Song


Sudden Valley from Arrested Development




Slightly different list: ART or NOT ART

ART:
freedom,
territory,
friends,
collaborators,
lovers,
promises,
flow,
patience,
change,
kindness,
generosity

NOT ART:
sign-off,
clients,
contracts,
charges,
minimum service level agreement,
deadlines,
urgency,
hierarchy,
specs,
scope of work,
salary,
overtime


Either ways, it all works, and tees up time for my first Sacred and Profane draw.

Let's see how this is going to work out.

I'll pull out 10 words for 5 combinations,
and then wiggle them around to see if there's an even better combination of 10.