Comedy writers

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  • #16
    Re: Comedy Writers

    If youâ€TMre not predisposed for that kind of humor, stick with what comes natural, whatever that is.

    Out of this whole thread, my own response included, this is the only valuable piece of advice. For some reason, many writers who tackle comedy seem to write things that aren't natural to them. Sadly, comedy also seems to be especially sensitive to writers who are trying to fake it. That insincerity shows on every page.

    Some people do slapstick well, most don't. Some people do witty well, most don't. If you don't feel comfortable writing silly then don't write it.

    Just my 2¢.

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    • #17
      Re: Comedy Writers

      It goes without saying that if you are not 'funny', you should probably stick with another genre.

      But the problems with most comedy scripts are the same as the problems of dramatic ones.

      Recently, I read an interview with David Cross, who is a very funny and successful stand-up comedian, actor (Arrested Developement) and writer (Mr.Show). He even took roles in films he considers 'big and dumb' (Scary Movie 2) to increase his appeal in Hollywood. He can get a meeting with almost anyone, yet he can't sell a script.

      It's possible that his humor is too alternative and too cool for the room, but it's much more likely that he hasn't yet mastered the narrative form. No one said this is easy.

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      • #18
        Re: Comedy Writers

        If youâ€TMre not predisposed for that kind of humor, stick with what comes natural, whatever that is.
        I both agree and disagree. I think if you can "see" it, you can write it. The question is whether you can see those funny scenes.

        I see lots of funny, silly, physical comedy scenes that will be a part of this script. For 5 minutes straight I laughed out loud, literally until the tears came, thinking about one scene in particular. But as I was wiping away the tears and catching my breath, I thought, "my poor character-- she's going to look so silly when this happens!" And I had a reaction to that, because I'm very protective of my characters and like them to look cool and sexy and smart.

        I've had characters be vulnerable, be surprised, be depressed, scared, etc. but they still look "cool." But you can't mix silly and cool, so to embrace this script means that my characters are going to look like @sses at times.

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        • #19
          Re: Comedy Writers

          because I'm very protective of my characters and like them to look cool and sexy and smart.
          I think the bigger root of your problem lies with this statement. You are already limiting the story that you can tell by not allowing them to be anything BUT cool, sexy, smart.

          Not everyone can be George Clooney in Ocean's 11.

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          • #20
            Re: Comedy Writers

            I 100% agree.

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            • #21
              Re: Comedy Writers

              sarah,

              we are in agreement.

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              • #22
                Re: Comedy Writers

                Ham,

                On this, I agree and, a gree by any other name would be a rgument.

                Comment


                • #23
                  Re: Comedy Writers

                  You are already limiting the story that you can tell by not allowing them to be anything BUT cool, sexy, smart.
                  How? I've already said that to tell this story, they will have to look silly and foolish. I don't see the limits.

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                  • #24
                    Re: Comedy Writers

                    What kind of comedy is it? Dumb and Dumber had silly and foolish characters. Airplane had even sillier(sp?...it looks funny) characters.

                    Sure, your characters can do silly and foolish things, but are they silly people...or just regular people who get caught up in situations that cause them to do silly and foolish things?

                    A pie in the face works with the Three Stooges because we expected it to happen the moment they walked into a bakery. It won't work with regular characters. Silly characters MUST do silly things. Regular characters can do anything you want...and some of them will be silly and foolish...but that's because of their uncertainty about their predicament, not because it's their nature.

                    Dunno if I'm waaaaaay off topic here or on point, but I thought I'd chip in with my two cents.

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                    • #25
                      Re: Comedy Writers

                      Maybe you are worried because you are not entirely confident with your straight-comedy writing abilities? I, for example, like to write comedies, but mostly limit myself to my own episodes of That 70s Show because I know (or think) that I cannot effectively write a comedy screenplay that will set itself apart from the thousands of others out there.

                      When I am around my hilarious 12-year old (though wise beyond her years) sister, who has a witty remark for every situation, and writes SNL-type scripts that almost make me pee my pants, I don't make comedic comments, for fear of how badly she will upstage me. Around my friends, however, I am the class clown, constantly making them laugh. It has taken me awhile to become comfortable with the fact that I can be funny when I am not worried about the consequences of failing to be. I have written a few scenes just to get a feel for what my next comedy screenplay is going to be, and when I just write, without spending all my time and energy questioning if it is funny enough or not, I found that the "finished" product was a hundred times better and funnier than anything I had ever written back in the day when I would overthink every funny line. Even my sister laughed at these new scenes.

                      Good luck.
                      K~

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                      • #26
                        Re: Comedy Writers

                        I used to do improv comedy, and I think I've written some funny scenes. I'm a funny guy. Take my wife, please. See? Hilarious.

                        Anywho, you say that you're worried because some of the funniest parts of your movie are too silly. I wonder if, by this, you mean that the situation is too contrived, or that it's trying too hard to be funny. Few things are less funny than someone trying really hard to be funny. So your characters shouldn't think they're funny; they shouldn't mug, or crack too many jokes. The "jokes" should come from interactions and juxtapositions between characters. Even if you're writing Ace Ventura, your lead character still takes himself seriously.

                        Also, the more relatable, almost banal, your characters' goals are, and the more extreme the obstacles are, the bigger the funny. And you need to raise the stakes. This is true of all movies, but in comedies especially, the goal needs to start out close, then progressively get farther away, despite the best efforts by our hero(ine). In There's Something About Mary, Ben pretty much has the girl right at the beginning, he just has to get out the door with her. Then he has to deal with finding her through a PI, then the PI tries for Mary, then there's other suitors, then there's Brett Favre. In Liar, Liar, Carrey wants to be a good dad and a great lawyer, then he can't lie, makes a fool of himself, insults coworkers, gets in trouble with the cops, then beats himself to a pulp. You have to go further and further to get the same laugh, because of diminishing returns.

                        If you're going for what I think is the best kind of comedy, the organic, laughing-because-it's-so-true kind, the audience has to relate to the characters. In TSAM, Stiller is going for a girl out of his league. In Liar, Liar, Carrey's dealing with being a family versus job. Even The Mask's goal is to get the girl.

                        Obviously there are exceptions to all this. Spoofs, satires, parodies don't have to go by this. But maybe this helps. Or maybe not. Whichever.

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                        • #27
                          I think the biggest point that's not been mentioned so far is that in broad comedies humour tends to come more directly from the plot than in rom-coms/thrillers/etc. where they tend to be diversions. If your comedy plot is strong enough to create gags that run the gamut from slapstick to damn good badinage, you know you've made the transition.

                          I personally don't think sarcastic and silly are contradictory - my last script was a very goofy and unreal comedy with a lot of physical gags but was a very cynical look at its main subject. Letting the worldview be cool/cynical instead of the characters themselves may give you the chance to throw them into more ridiculous situations.

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                          • #28
                            A cool character trying to play it straight in a silly situation? Are you kidding? Comedy gold.

                            Comedy is life exaggerated.

                            You have to give your audience something relatable and then you have to take it to the nth degree.

                            IOW you gotta make your characters suffer. One of my favorite movies of all time is Tootsie, which has a serious actor in a pretty silly situation. And it keeps getting worse by the minute. This is a perfect example of esculating action. If the writers had pulled back at all (maybe not had Dr. Brewster lay a wet one on Dorothy, or not had Les propose) it just wouldn't pack the same punch.

                            If you're feeling it as you're writing it, you're halfway there. Don't pull back. If YOU are laughing, that's a good sign.

                            I think your problem may be that you don't want to go there. I can understand this, I have problems with this myself. But you gotta get over it.

                            Your audience will love you for it.

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