The Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, those cartoon favorites from Warner Brothers' beloved Looney Tunes, spent four dozen animated shorts engaging in ridiculous mayhem through the American Southwest.
Though the behavior of the two seemed spontaneous and silly, their comedic timing was a carefully constructed reality made by Chuck Jones, perhaps the most famous director at Warner Brothers' animation division.
Yesterday, Jones' rules for that reality went viral when film director Amos Posner tweeted a picture he had taken at the "What's Up, Doc? The Animation Art of Chuck Jones" exhibition at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City:
Still obsessed with Chuck Jones' coyote/roadrunner rules. Awesome to so clearly, concisely define your characters. pic.twitter.com/MRd4zguD93— Amos Posner (@AmosPosner) March 4, 2015
These rules come from Jones' 1999 autobiography, in which he wrote:
Just as I decided later that there would be no dialogue in the Coyote-Road Runner series because it seemed like a good rule, or indeed it would be a good rule if it was consistent; all comedians obey rules consistent with their own view of comedy. In my opinion, Jackie Gleason got more milage out of threatening to hit somebody than the Three Stooges ever did by doing so.
He then goes on to list the rules as shown in Posner's tweet.
There is some discrepancy over whether these rules were in place from the beginning. Michael Maltese, Jones' co-creator for the series, said in an interview in the book Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age that he had never heard of the rules.
"Beep-beep," we imagine Jones would say to that.