When do you write the jokes?

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  • When do you write the jokes?

    When writing a comedy focused piece (versus, say, a Romcom or dramedy), do you find it easier to write the basic scene first then go back in and add jokes or is it easier to add them as you go?

    I notice some of my scenes get written funny, at least in my mind, but need more to really get the laughs. I wonder if it's easier to build a scene that works, then go back and look for humor within or to spend the time writing the scene with all the jokes/humor that you expect.
    Any thoughts?

    I suppose a similar question could be asked for action scenes.
    Do you get Bond from A to B, then go back and describe or do you include the car flips and monkey spear-gun divers as you write it? (You know, if you're inclined to include something as silly as car flips, I'm not judging).
    SL35
    Potent dreamer. Newb disclaimer.

  • #2
    Re: When do you write the jokes?

    To you, in the context of a comedy film, what's "a joke"? Really. And so, could you mention a couple of the best "jokes" from 1 or 2 classic comedies?

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    • #3
      Re: When do you write the jokes?

      It's all in the outline first. Scenes shouldn't exist in the outline without some sense of how they are going to play out in comedic ways, either in the scene itself or a payoff at a later time.

      Then you do the best you can with "jokes" on the page, keeping in mind that being too jokey quickly gets you into sitcom land.

      Then you read it back again and again, and if you can, get someone else to read it out loud and try to develop something even funnier.

      There are masterpieces of comedy out there, for sure, but always tell yourself that your stuff can always be funnier.
      On Twitter @DeadManSkipping

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      • #4
        Re: When do you write the jokes?

        Originally posted by Manchester View Post
        To you, in the context of a comedy film, what's "a joke"? Really. And so, could you mention a couple of the best "jokes" from 1 or 2 classic comedies?
        Ok. Picture "Young Frankenstein". The monster on stage scene. That was probably designed completely from the first words as a funny scene, the monster dancing. But, there's a spot in the scene where the monster performs some simple action and Gene discreetly slips a treat into the monster's mouth. That was a great joke in an already funny scene that could have been added at any time (during or after the scene was written). Then, the scene breaks down and Gene tries to quickly get music and dancing going again. Great joke, but one that was probably in the scene from the beginning.
        SL35
        Potent dreamer. Newb disclaimer.

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        • #5
          Re: When do you write the jokes?

          I was always told to write a comedy as a drama and then go back and insert the humor later. Just hard to be funny on cue. Plus it's not always the lines that make things funny, it's the situations,i.e, Curb Your Enthusiasm.

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          • #6
            Re: When do you write the jokes?

            Originally posted by Silverlynx35 View Post
            You know, if you're inclined to include something as silly as car flips, I'm not judging
            *slowly narrows eyes*
            Script Revolution - A free to use script hosting website that offers screenwriters a platform to promote their scripts and a way for filmmakers to search through them.

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            • #7
              Re: When do you write the jokes?

              All the time.

              You need a fundamentally funny concept, that implies a certain amount of humor. You'll notice that in many many many comedies, the jokes are all variations on one or two themes. You should know what those themes are, and constantly be on the lookout for moments to exploit them.

              You write the scenes funny to begin with.

              You punch them up. Repeatedly.

              If you don't have characters who draw a certain amount of comedy out of you just thinking about them in the basics of a situation, then I suspect your comedy is DOA anyway.

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              • #8
                Re: When do you write the jokes?

                Originally posted by CJ Walley View Post
                *slowly narrows eyes*
                Well, I'm not talking about your car flips.... Obviously
                SL35
                Potent dreamer. Newb disclaimer.

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                • #9
                  Re: When do you write the jokes?

                  It depends on the kind of comedy script you're writing. A film like Airplane is an exercise in packing as many jokes per minute as possible into the running time - and I have no doubt that they made multiple passes over the script, looking for places to inject more jokes. I would expect the same is true of the Scary Movie series.

                  Also, these types of movies tend to be written sitcom style, with a panel of writers throwing ideas at the wall.

                  But not all comedies are joke-fests (think Woody Allen, for example).

                  I wrote an episode of a very silly Disney comedy. In order to capture the tone of the show, I constantly listened to Carl Stalling's Looney Tunes music while I was writing. It's not just the jokes; it's the tone, the rhythm, the overall feel of the piece that makes it a comedy.
                  Need a collaborator? GeniusCreatives.com.

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                  • #10
                    Re: When do you write the jokes?

                    In my opinion, you write the joke whenever you get inspired to. If it feels right or you've got a bunch of material, go for it. If you're writing a comedy and there are no jokes than of course you'll have to go back and do a big punch up. However, I don't think there is a set rule. It's just whatever works best for you.

                    That being said, knowing what you find funny about every scene helps. Than you can attack that premise or idea hard once you're ready. But, getting something down to start with makes the job easier for me.

                    I hope that helps.
                    Stuff I Do - http://www.youtube.com/user/celluloidsimple

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                    • #11
                      Re: When do you write the jokes?

                      I have written the jokes 2 years before the screenplay before... and 2 minutes before sending the screenplay to the producer, too.

                      (I consider "jokes" as anything designed to make the audience laugh, might be dialogue or an action or a situation or *anything*. Doesn't have to be Henny Youngman.)

                      Bill
                      Free Script Tips:
                      http://www.scriptsecrets.net

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