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  • #31
    Re: Whew, that was a close one...

    Cold Comfort Farm didn't have a belly laugh in the first 4 minutes, but it did have quirks, foibles and wry characterization. I'm no Tao or Steve (not even a Tao of Steve), but I don't think it would be a problem.

    Besides, one of your character's foibles might be hilarious to a reader.


    • #32
      Comedy Headquarters

      Some of my favorite comedic moments come from the REACTIONS of both the main character and supporting players to outrageous situations. Think of some of Ben Stiller's priceless reactions in MEET THE PARENTS, for example. This is one of my favorite techniques, the art of the REACTION. Remember, so much of acting is REACTING.


      • #33
        Re: Comedy Headquarters

        Sidenote: one thing I find incredibly irritating in too many modern/recent comedies is the need for a rotten turn of luck/semi-tragedy during act three. An hour of fun and laughs and then mawkish crap. No matter what the rationale for this is, it's just a downer. Is this "structure" required these days for a sale? Do we always have to have someone close to one of the leads going to the effin' surgery or somesuch? A challenge to the protag (like in any other henre) is fine, but must there be schmaltzy crap?


        • #34
          Re: Comedy Headquarters

          In a basic sense "comedy" is simply the element of surprise. Someone falls down, you laugh 'cause you were surprised.

          This element of surprise is also why jokes aren't funny the second time you hear them. The punchline is no longer a surprise.

          So, keep your repartee between characters and your sight gags fresh and new and you'll have a better comedy. When the audience can see the puchline coming, the joke's ruined and it's a groaner instead of a belly laugh.

          Unfortunately, in order to come up with new material, filmmakers have been scraping the gutter in recent years and producing sick comedies (Something About Mary, South Park, Scary Movie).

          I like those movies, they made me laugh, but how many times do I have to see a scene in which a dog is humping a person's leg? It was sorta funnie the first time, but then I saw it in Joe Dirt, Little Nikki, Get Over it, and Big Daddy. Lame.


          • #35
            Re: Comedy Headquarters

            Yeah, but using Saddam and Satan's ongoing "relationship" to cackle at half the shows on the Lifetime Channel is always funny no matter how often it's done. It's still a chuckle if when you DO see it coming.


            • #36
              Re: Comedy Headquarters

              Thanks everyone!

              I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot better comedies if the world will take your advice on how to write comedy!

              Sincerily, with love!



              • #37
                Re: Comedy Headquarters

                A lot of good advice above. But along my "there is no truth only perception" track, remember that comedy, like beauty, is in the ear of the beholder.

                I've co-written 21 produced sitcoms in the last 18 months. I had no training in the genre and a lot of it was seat-of-the-pants stuff in the beginning. My partner and I learnt about all the techniques as we went along, the conventions of the rule of three, the misdirection, the surprise, the out-of-character ploy etc. But in the end, a lot of the stuff that we thought was sceamingly funny was cut by the prodco - don't get it, not funny. And some of our lamest jokes, the ones we bashed our heads against the wall to come up with, the ones dragged from the soil underneath the bottom of the pile, got the biggest laughs.

                So you can use all the conventions, but in the end, there's a good chance that what you think is hysterical might leave others totally unimpressed.

                That's the nature of comedy, that's it's so hard.


                • #38
                  Re: Comedy Headquarters

                  I hope this hasn't already been addressed, but the one thing I know for sure about comedy is that specific is always funnier than general.

                  For example: "He was dancing like he had an animal in his pants" is mildly funny.

                  But the more specific line: "He was dancing like he had a wombat in his pants" is funnier. (Actually, there are two reasons this is funnier: naming a specific animal makes it funnier, plus "wombat" is simply a really funny word. That's like a little humor bonus.)

                  And the even more specific line: "He was dancing like he had a rabid wombat in his pants" is even funnier. (It's not just any wombat, it's a rabid wombat, with all that implies.)

                  That's the only lesson I have to offer. The further you move from general to specific, the more funny you tend to bring.

                  Sez me.


                  • #39
                    Re: Comedy Headquarters

                    If I may jump in here...

                    One added aspect to comedy is cultural differences.

                    I was in Germany for about a month and a half and I found many differences in humor. Mainly flatulence. Germans didn't find flatulence funny. I was in many business meetings and not one German laughed at flatulence. Flatulence in laughter...flatulence on the train, nothing. Flatulence echoing throughout the Dom in Cologne, again, nada.

                    Any other cultural experiences?


                    • #40
                      Re: Comedy Headquarters

                      Considering how well Ritchie writes, many might want to get in on that muffin action...

                      To answer the question, I've found that erudite gags RE history (the signing of the Magna Carta, etc.) go over well in Britain but barely raise a giggle here, while the gutbuster impressario fullisades (like Chris Rock speaking on Ghetto-isms) barely raises a polite chortle overseas.


                      • #41
                        Re: Comedy Headquarters

                        Well, for what it's worth, one of the crudest senses of humor I've encountered belongs to a dude I know from London. His sense of humor suggests there are pockets of England where flatulence is considered hilarious -- and tame, even. And a joke about the Magna Carta would probably zoom right over his head.


                        • #42
                          Re: Comedy Headquarters

                          Of course. We have Bowery Boys from The Bronx, they have Cockneys. Aussies have drongos that though Paul Hogan was funny for long enough to get him the Croc Dundee gig. Somewhere in Sweden there's probably some guy making Viking poop jokes. But none the less...


                          • #43
                            Re: Comedy Headquarters

                            Well, I think my London friend's from Bath, originally. I don't know if that makes him cockney or not.

                            I have to say I'm just as comfortable amongst the cockneys, drongos, and bowery boys (do we still have those?) as among other college fellas....


                            • #44
                              Re: Comedy Headquarters

                              I noticed that the Brits and Japanese had the most laughs at two commercial festivals I went to. An audience made up of Canucks.

                              I can say that Canuckle heads find humor laughing at themselves as opposed to the Germans laughing at others.

                              Never touch the bran. I'm naturally full of it.

                              Who came up with All Bran anyway? The same mastermind who invented Puffed Wheat. (nightmares from my childhood)

                              LITTLE RICHIE

                              Gee Mom, all this Puffed Wheat and
                              all the homemade, sugarless, Jam I
                              want to put on it?

                              RICHIE'S MOM

                              Stop whining and mix the
                              powdered milk!


                              • #45
                                Re: Comedy Headquarters

                                lol just let that creativity flow.

                                on a serious comedic note...

                                one could delve deeper into this. Not only Cultural differences but different generations have different tastes in comedy. And deeper still, social classes as well. Something to ponder.

                                I do agree with most of the other posts. Surprise is a common factor that's a gain factor for the laugh-o-meter.