Greg Beal / Nicholl: Comedies?



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  • #46
    Re: Romcoms, prodcos

    But there's something very "ick" about "Eck vs. Sever."

    I don't think you should worry too much about comedies getting the shaft. If you write a good script, I'm sure it'll find an audience. And if you write a great script, I'm certain it'll launch your career.

    So just write a great script. It's the most logical advice I've heard or offered that I'm shocked that no one does it.


    • #47
      Re: Romcoms, prodcos

      I entered a comedy because I thought it represented my best work. I wasn't really worried about percentages or odds or anything. I'll let you know how it turns out, April.

      I don't think I could hang out with anyone who said rom-com. I also hate cutesey buzzwords like newbie and kudos, and anyone who says per se, and, well, I hate most people...


      • #48
        Re: Romcoms, prodcos

        I also hate cutesey buzzwords like newbie and kudos, and anyone who says per se, and, well, I hate most people...
        True, people are obnoxious idiots. Cheers! and welcome to the fraternity of obnoxious idiots!


        • #49
          Re: Romcoms, prodcos

          Hi there? What's this thread about?


          • #50
            Re: Romcoms, prodcos

            I think this thread has finally taken a worthy turn. The most important thing here we can walk away with is the correct spelling of the abbreviations.

            Is it "Romcom" (one word, initial cap)?

            Or is it "Rom Com" (two words, initial caps)?

            Or is it "romcom" (one word, all lower case)?

            Or is it "Rom-Com" (hyphenated, initial caps)?

            Or is it "Rom-com" (hyphenated, initial cap on R only)?

            Or is it "rom-com" (hyphenated, all lower case)?

            Similarly, is it "Prodco" (one word, initial cap)?

            Or is it "Prod Co" (two words, initial caps)?

            Or is it "prodco" (one word, all lower case)?

            Or is it "Prod-Co" (hyphenated, initial caps)?

            Or is it "Prod-co" (hyphenated, initial cap on P only)?

            Or is it "prod-co" (hyphenated, all lower case)?

            Somebody give me a definitive answer, please, so I don't look like a fool when I correspond with "industry" people.


            • #51
              Re: Romcoms, prodcos

              Okay, sorry sorry about getting the name of the contest wrong. I never entered it. I never entered any writing contest. And yes, I am one of those people who hates cutesy little coined words. So there you have it. My single most despised piece of screenwriting jargon is "wrylie." Of course, I've never ever heard anybody actually say that word. I've only read it.

              Anyway, I am not suggesting that professional comedy writers all became good after they broke in. That doesn't logically follow from my post. I suggest that there are probably fewer strong comedy scripts in amateur competitions than there are strong scripts of other genres in amateur competitions. And so fewer comedy scripts advance.

              Which is not the same thing as saying that all professional comedy writers got good after breaking in. Not at all.

              There are not a lot of people who can write strong comedy, compared to the numbers of people who can write strong scripts in other genres. Therefore, strong comedy scripts are fewer in number than scripts of other genres. Therefore, fewer such scripts wind up in amateur competitions. It's a numbers thing.

              Of course I think someone who has not broken in yet can write a strong comedy script. I have a good friend who did just that. He wrote a News Radio spec that was incredibly funny. He gave it to me, I gave it to a friend who was a story editor on a sitcom. The story editor gave it to the showrunner. The showrunner hired the writer for his first staff job.

              Are there a lot of amateur writers out there who could write a spec as funny as the one my friend did? Well, the showrunner who hired him said it was the best sitcom spec he'd ever read. So, I would have to guess that the answer is no.

              I think comedy is difficult to write. I am not alone in this belief. That is not to say that the other genres are easy. To say that one thing is hard is not to automatically imply that certain other things are easy.

              I think all good writing is tough stuff to produce. And I am not suggesting that amateur writers looking to break in can't write great comedy. But I do think that, overall, great comedy writing is rare.


              • #52
                Re: Romcoms, prodcos

                Mini, it was a lighthearted comment, which I tried to make clear with the "that's all I'm sayin' " afterthought. I know you weren't really suggesting that good pro comedy writers spring up fully-formed like so many babies from a cabbage patch.

                I was just giving a little nudge, on account of how often I hear (or see) remarks about how there are virtually no great amateur comedy writers, quickly followed by a remark about how the amateurs' work is never on par with that of the pros. Just seems like a logical disconnect there.

                That's all I'm sayin'.


                • #53
                  Re: Romcoms, prodcos

                  Well, sadly for amateurs, most amateur work is not on par with that of the higher level of professional writers.

                  Sadly for professional writers, much professional writing isn't on par with that of the higher level of professional writers.


                  • #54
                    Re: Romcoms, prodcos

                    Mini - point taken, and agreed.


                    • #55
                      Re: Romcoms, prodcos

                      April - -

                      I hear ya ('ya' short for 'you,' not that you're short on anything, oh, anyway . . .), I entered a comedy in Nicholl after reading several discussions which seemed to indicate it was a long shot.

                      Then again, breaking into this business and continually getting work is one continuous long shot, no?

                      I say risking the money is better than wondering, ten years form now, 'What if . . . ?'


                      • #56
                        Some 2003 Nicholl comedy stats

                        Last year, 1,907 entries included at least one of the following words on the genre line --

                        comedy, comic, comedic, farce, satire, humor ("com" was not used as a marker).

                        1,907 is 31.5% of the 6,048 total entries.

                        Of those, 64 advanced to the quarterfinal round.

                        64 is 20.0% of the 320 quarterfinalists.

                        Why do comedies of various sorts not do as well as their entry numbers suggest?

                        The simple answer is that comedies have to make the reader laugh (or at least chuckle). When they do not, they do not receive a particularly good score.

                        And humor seems to be even more subjective than pretty much any other aspect of movie storytelling. What one reader/viewer finds funny will often not be the same as what another reader/viewer finds funny.

                        Dramas, thrillers, adventures do not have a single automatic dismissive element as does comedy (i.e., not being funny), so they tend to do a little better overall.

                        Still, 20% of all the scripts advancing to the 2003 Nicholl quarterfinals were a comedy of one sort or another. That doesn't suggest anything remotely close to an impossible situation.


                        • #57
                          Re: Some 2003 Nicholl comedy stats

                          what about Nasty? is there a place for the hilariousBad Santa type scripts in prestigious contests? or would they be too embarrassed to be represented in that way?


                          • #58
                            Wow, first of all, I think it is pretty damn dumb to debate the abbreviations people tend to use in their speach while posting on message boards. But it gives me a laugh, so it's all in good fun. HAHA. Ok. This isn't my point.

                            I would like to go back to the whole debate about "meaningful" scripts getting somewhere in contests vs. "fluff" scripts, which usually boils down to comedic stories doing badly... First I would like to point out this fact, I entered a script for the first time to the NICHOLL (in case a spell checker is reading this ) My script and style of writing is D-R-A-M-A, with a capital DDDD.

                            I am not satisfied until every single person is moved by my story. THat is just what I am drawn to... Now, I would also like to point out a couple movies that are C-O-M-E-D-Y with a capital CCCC.

                            "Bruce Almighty", starring the ultimate comedic god, the jokes in this film were outrageously funny. And you know what, the underlying meaning and story behind all the humor, was the most sentimental, touching concept. I CRY everytime I watch the part where he is watching her pray for him through the window. The moral of that story was, Don't take anything in your life for granted. Roll with the punches and be honest, and THAT is what makes you thankful for what you get in life.

                            In the end, having "God's powers" isn't what made him glad and happy, it just made the world a disaster. And having those powers made him realize that the only real thing that matters in life is what he already had. I am sorry to say folks, but it doesn't get anymore meaningful than that. If you are a comedy writer who seeks inspiration of stories with jokes and meaning, check that movie out if you haven't already.

                            Another example, of course, is LIAR LIAR. I get choked up everytime when he makes up with his son at the end. Behind all the jokes, hides a love story between father and son. Work and money and advancement isn't always worth missing the little things like the moments you will never get back of your kid's childhood.

                            Anyways, that was a long description but I hope it made a few writers on this board realize comedies can have just as much meaning... And that's coming from a Dramatic writer.

                            (although, I hope none of the Nicholl judges read this and let it affect not picking my drama :lol )



                            • #59
                              obey - I agree that the best comedies strive to be affecting and funny at the same time, but it's a tough balancing act. If you're taking your characters and situations seriously enough to reach the audience on an emotional level, it's much more difficult to take them to fearless lengths for the sake of a laugh. This is why hilarious set pieces, funny though they may be, often undercut the realism and emotional impact of a movie.

                              To scale the heights of the ridiculous, you have to stretch the limits of reality and coincidence at least temporarily, and stretching the limits of reality does a disservice to character. Rob Schneider bucking backward through the water like a porpoise in "The Animal" is very funny, but makes his character more of a cartoon and therefore makes his suffering less like that of you and me and more like that of Spongebob Squarepants---unreal, and assuredly temporary. The trick is to balance what you're trying to add in humor with what you risk losing in character.

                              If a thematically strong comedy beats out a fluff comedy in a competition, assuming they're both equally funny, well, in my opinion it's a deserved win because it's a higher achievement. However, that doesn't mean "Animal House" and "Airplane" don't deserve their places in the canon of comedy greats. Would "Animal House" or "Airplane" have won the Nicholl or Chesterfield? Hmmm...who knows? I suppose it depends on the competition that year.

                              Looking back on mainstream comedies I know and love, I can't think of a single one that was both gut-bustingly funny AND emotionally affecting to me (I obviously disagree with you on Bruce). The only ones I can think of that achieved both are black comedies: "Life of Brian", "O Brother Where Art Thou", "Shallow Grave", "Raising Arizona", "Snatch"...I could go on and on; I love a good black comedy. And I bet these are the types of comedies with a better shot in something like the Nicholl or Chesterfield.