Are You a Comedy Writer or a Drama Writer

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  • Are You a Comedy Writer or a Drama Writer

    Here is a youtube video by Michael Jamin, it's less than two minutes long. Are You a Comedy Writer or a Drama Writer.

    The thing here is do you THINK like a comedy writer or do you THINK like a drama writer?

    I realize there are writers like Scott Frank who can write both, he even writes sci-fi thrillers. Or Craig Mazin who writes both.

    For instance, Bono, to me, thinks all the time like a comedian. Maybe he can pull a sci-fi thriller out of his butt, who the fuck knows. Maybe he does.

    I like comedy, but I don't know if I think like a comedy writer all the time.
    Last edited by Mark Somers; 02-07-2024, 10:20 AM.

  • #2
    I'm keenly aware that I'm a frustrated comedy writer working in every other genre, save comedy.

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    • #3
      I just remembered. Jeff Lowell wrote a short thriller years ago on Popcorn Fiction.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Satriales View Post
        I'm keenly aware that I'm a frustrated comedy writer working in every other genre, save comedy.
        Yea but you're really good at what you already write.

        Jamin also points out and William Martell too, that specializing is very much a plus in Hollywood.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Mark Somers View Post

          Yea but you're really good at what you already write.

          Jamin also points out and William Martell too, that specializing is very much a plus in Hollywood.
          That's very nice of you to say, but I just think it goes to the old "musicians want to be athletes and athletes want to be musicians" thing. I want the thing that I can't do.

          I think I understand the reasoning behind it. It's definitely my favorite genre. I tried writing it when I was just out of college and I sucked. (but I would have sucked at anything) I enjoy working collaboratively so the idea of a comedy room is super appealing to me.​

          I think that's why my scripts are a bit punchy in the dialogue department, it's my way of compensating.

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          • #6
            For years I also considered myself a comedy guy. I'd always been drawn to the genre, did stand-up, improv, etc. And at the end of the day my comedy scripts were... okay. Definitely not bad but not out of this world either.

            But when i started playing around with dramas, then infusing them with my sense of humor, my writing really started to click. Go figure . . .

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            • #7
              Originally posted by JS90 View Post

              But when i started playing around with dramas, then infusing them with my sense of humor, my writing really started to click. Go figure . . .
              I can see that working.

              Come to think of it Tim Talbott aka Robotard8000 broke in writing for "South Park", comedy, he's also writes for "Chicago Fire", drama. He's also the author of "Fuel-Injected Dreams". And he wrote "Stanford Prison Experiment". drama. And of course he cowrote with Malcohm Spellman "Balls Out", which I understand had a pretty good joke on page 75.

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              • #8
                Almost like drama fits into every other genre... I solved the puzzle. But also I know what the point of the video is. However, who the hell doesn't know that already? If you see a person slip on the ice, do you laugh or cry?

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                • #9
                  I think this is a very good point to make, especially at a time when so many people take everything so seriously and seem to be losing their sense of humor more every day.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bono View Post
                    Almost like drama fits into every other genre...
                    Years ago I heard an interview with Joe Wiseman and Joe Port (big sitcom showrunners) and they said something that's stuck with me. The interviewer asked what they thought was harder to write, comedy or drama. They answered "Comedy. Because you first have to craft a compelling drama premise ... and then you have to make it funny."

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JS90 View Post

                      Years ago I heard an interview with Joe Wiseman and Joe Port (big sitcom showrunners) and they said something that's stuck with me. The interviewer asked what they thought was harder to write, comedy or drama. They answered "Comedy. Because you first have to craft a compelling drama premise ... and then you have to make it funny."
                      Exactly. And it's what I always forget to do first and Jeff Lowell tells me how stupid I am for doing that... then I give advice about doing that first "start with drama" and then I fail to take my own advice.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Bono View Post
                        Almost like drama fits into every other genre... I solved the puzzle. But also I know what the point of the video is. However, who the hell doesn't know that already? If you see a person slip on the ice, do you laugh or cry?
                        I think comedy is harder than drama because we all don't laugh at the same thing. For example, if I saw someone fall on ice I wouldn't laugh or cry. I'd empathize because I know it hurts.

                        There was a particular joke in my script about the boot camp for married couples on the verge of divorce. It was in the counseling scene with a traditional therapist.

                        The manager didn't like it. He thought it was mean. But he was single and never went to marriage counseling. Yet all of my married friends thought it was LOL funny. So much crap goes down in a marriage that we keep mum about so I had my couple say it out loud.

                        I always wondered if it didn't sell because single readers wouldn't get most of the jokes.
                        Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

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                        • #13
                          Thanks for remembering the story, and I agree with the point that comedy writers can write drama, because good comedy has to work as a drama first. (I know, there are exceptions, like spoof movies.) But being funny is a specialized skill - not every drama writer can be funny.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by sc111 View Post

                            I think comedy is harder than drama because we all don't laugh at the same thing. For example, if I saw someone fall on ice I wouldn't laugh or cry. I'd empathize because I know it hurts.

                            There was a particular joke in my script about the boot camp for married couples on the verge of divorce. It was in the counseling scene with a traditional therapist.

                            The manager didn't like it. He thought it was mean. But he was single and never went to marriage counseling. Yet all of my married friends thought it was LOL funny. So much crap goes down in a marriage that we keep mum about so I had my couple say it out loud.

                            I always wondered if it didn't sell because single readers wouldn't get most of the jokes.
                            The two choices aren't only laugh or cry -- it was just my way of saying the same thing the video said. I fell on the same icy spot getting off a bus in middle school 3 days in a row. It was funny to my friends. And I had to laugh too. Sure it hurt. But it is funny to watch someone slip and fall. Schadenfreude.

                            ***

                            Re: a spec not selling due to those annoying single peeps!!!!

                            As every person knows, comedy is subjective. I wrote a scene, I thought was touching moment with a father and son, a reader said it offended her as she took it 100% a different way than I wrote it. But that happens to all writers.

                            So no I don't think it was single readers not getting your jokes. Sure married people may find it funnier, but I can still laugh at jokes about things I am not currently or never will be. Like say a vampire in What We Do In The Shadows.

                            A manager not finding something funny, but your friends finding it funny is not uncommon.

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                            • #15
                              No reason why you can't do both. I'm more drama/thriller/action but humour, especially black humour, always finds its way in even in the most serious of scenes.

                              Whilst being consistently funny is a task, it's easy if you're naturally funny. However comedies tend to be rather simplistic whilst dramas tend to have more emotional heft, subplots and nuances so I'd say drama is harder.

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