When you write for comedy, you should never try to be funny. Trying too hard is always visible, and in comedy, it might make the jokes and the characters unbelievable. The “funny” stuff should arise from the situations, the characters, and the story itself. In this post, I’m going to teach you how to sharpen up your comedy abilities. If you’ll want to learn more about comedy script writing, check the scriptwriting course at WritersStore Sale Items.
Find your own taste in comedy
To be good at comedy writing you need to find your own writing voice and your type of favorite comedy. There are many types of comedies out there. There are:
- Goofy comedies like Office Space or Old School
- Romantic comedies like Chasing Amy and the classic When Harry Met Sally
- Dramatic comedies like Harold and Maude and The King of comedy
- Action comedy such as Beverly Hills Cop and Pineapple express
There are also Slapstick, parody or spoof film, Black comedies, Gross-out films And screwball comedies so find out what are the ones that you want to do.
I recommend reading my post on finding your own voice, but there is another fun exercise you can do to find your own type of humor:
Listen to your favorite comedians and watch your favorite comedy films, listen to the jokes and write down those that really makes you fall down from your chair. Now, look at these jokes and find out what they all got in common. Start to become aware of what makes you laugh.
Even in comedy writing – Build a good story
When you have a good story the jokes won’t be forced. Writing a good story is essential for comedy. Pay attention to the 3 act structure of the story and to the characters. If you are having problems with writing a good story, find a writing partner that is good at this and work with him.
Writing with a partner will work also when you write a good story, but having trouble making it funny.
Build funny characters
Even in comedy writing. good funny characters are 3D characters. I recommend reading my post on writing a good character, but also check out comedy films from different countries. You will find out that every country has its own character type that works best for them. For example, the British love dumb characters, while the Americans like a protagonist that keep on fighting in a crazy world.
You will find out that every country has its own character type that works best for them. For example, the British love dumb characters, while the Americans like a protagonist that keep on fighting in a crazy world.
Also, notice the job of every character in a joke. Some characters are there to comment on the protagonist’s actions. Sometimes a joke might won’t work without a good reaction from a secondary character.
In this scene from the Love Guru, Steven Colbert explains the Five hole trape. The scene wouldn’t be as funny without the reactions of Jim Gaffigan
Know your audience
Who are your audience and what are they expecting. It is very important to know your audience and to find a way you can reach them. You may like writing American humor, but if that kind of humor doesn’t work in your country, you need to find a way to make it work for them.
Writing the punchline
Many writers have problems with the punchline or funny ending for a sketch or a scene. Many writers try to start from the punchline and develop the funny situation out of it. Others like to start with a specific setup and then to try 10 different punchlines. You should do what works best for you, but I recommend starting from what is important. If it’s the setup then start with the setup and if it’s the punchline then start with it.
Surprise the audience
The element of surprise is a very basic element in comedy. Taking the audience expectations and turning them around is what makes every punchline work. The characters should share the audience expectations too. The bigger the gap is between the character’s expectations and the true result of the situation, the funnier it will be. Also, make sure your jokes haven’t been done a thousand times before.Be original!
Find locations with potential to be funny
If you find a good location, jokes will come with them. Go through your script and see which scenes can be done in a more interesting location and think about all the funny situations you can draw out from it. Also, think about the props that every location can offer and what you can do with them.
Your first tool as a comedy writer is your imagination. Being creative is important if you want to surprise your audience. You have to create as many jokes as possible with the characters, props, and locations you have. Look at the objects around you and train your mind to find funny situations that relate to them. Observe really interesting people that you think might be great to build characters from. Maybe it is one element about them that interest you. Write everything down in a little notebook. Observe and ask yourself what would happen if…?
Bob Newhart once said that a comedian can never have a vacation because he is always observing at everything around him. That is basically the comedian’s job and the same for the comedy writer.
That is basically the comedian’s job and the same for the comedy writer.
Writing with a partner
When you’ll look at the credits in most of the comedy films out there, you will see that most comedies has a few script writers. Writing with a partner is not always easy and fun as it may sound, but in comedy writing it is very recommended. When you write with others, you get to see live reactions for your ideas and jokes. When working with a partner on comedy, it is recommended to find someone with the expertises you are missing, so he’ll complete you and won’t go against you. As in love & marriage, when you find your partner, make sure it will be someone you will love to work with and that it will be easy to divorce from if needed.
Fixing the script
Mel Brooks once said that writing is all about re-writing. When you work on the second draft of a scene or a full script, read the dialogue out loud and see how they sound. With comedy, the text is not enough, they should be acted funny as well. Pay attention to the rhythm of the lines. Sometimes simply moving an adverb can make all the work or simply changing one word (Is Pepsy is funnier word than Cola?)Read it also to others and see their reaction.