How to Write a Comedy Script?

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We all love to laugh and we all have comedy movie lines that we’ll remember forever. That is because comedy films have a special connection with their audience. Comedy script writing is not easy. You need to make readers laugh from just reading. In this article, I’m going to give you 10 tips that will help you write better comedy scripts, but before we go there, there are a few things you need to understand about how to make a comedy, because, let’s face it, it’s not enough to read a few tips to become a comedy writer. What’s important to remember is that when you write for a 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. 

Find your taste in comedy

Before you start to even think about creating any type of comedy, you need to find your writing voice and your type of favourite 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 films, 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 voice, but there is another fun exercise you can do to find your type of humour:

Listen to your favourite comedians, watch your favourite comedy films, listen to the jokes, and write down those that make you laugh. Now, look at these jokes and find out what they all got in common. Start to become aware of what makes you laugh.

Comedy writing courses

There are a lot of comedy writing courses everywhere. It is recommended to learn how to write comedy in general and not only for the movies. Personally, I recommend 2 courses in the MasterClass programThe MasterClass program is a platform that contains more than 100 classes in different fields (a lot of film classes too) that are being taught by the masters. You can sign up for a full year and get free access to all of them. In the field of comedy writing I recommend these classes:

1. Steve Martin Teaches Comedy – This is one of the best comedy writing classes out there. Steve Martin is one of the most respective comedians out there. In more than a-50 years career, he practised comedy as a stand-up comedy performer, as a TV writer, movie writer, novel writer and more, so if there is someone that understands the anatomy of being funny, it’s him. In this online class, he teaches how to deliver comedy through all of the stages – from gathering ideas to the delivery itself.  Steve reveals his best sources for comedy materials, he talks about how to find your comedic voice, how to develop a comedic persona. Steve also analyzes a few jokes structures that show you don’t always have to have a punchline to make a laugh and much more. This is a course that more than anything will inspire you to go out there and make other people laugh.

2. Judd Apatow Teaches Comedy – Judd Apatow is responsible for comedy hits like The 40 Year old virging, Knocked up, Girls, Pineapple Express, Superbad and so much more. What so good about this comedy course is that Apatow talk about all the stages of creating a comedy movie – from building an idea, to craft the story and structuring it, up until the directing and producing stage. Judd will teach you not only how to write funny characters, and funny dialogues, he also teaches how to cast and direct actors, how to shoot a comedy and the secrets behind producing a comedy film- as a writer, you need to know this stuff, so you’ll understand the process that your script will go after you sold it.

You can also look for comedy classes around your area and maybe even take some improv classes. Practice comedy and when you’ll write it, it will become more natural

Read funny scripts as much as you can

You can learn about scriptwriting for as long as you need, but if you really want to advanced yourself, you need to start reading as many scripts as you can. There are tons of comedy scripts examples on the internet and you really don’t need to try hard to find a funny script. Start with comedy scripts of movies you like, and try to read as many comedy genres as you can. That way you’ll learn that there really is no one way to write a comedy script. There is a general format to write all the scripts, but after reading a few comedy screenplays, you’ll see that there is a way to be creative within the format. 

10 comedy writing tips on how to write a comedy story

Knowing how to write funny is essential for every write, not only comedy writers. Here are 9 tips that will help you make your script funnier. 
  • Build a good story – When you have a good story, the jokes are not being forced into the story. Think about your movie as a drama first. Writing a good story is essential for comedy, and it should be the tool that leads the jokes. So like every story,  pay attention to the 3 act structure of the story and the characters. If you are having problems with writing a good story.
  • Learn to observe – The best way to get good ideas for stories is to find funny elements in your life that you can develop into a story. It doesn’t have to be a funny thing that happened to you. It can be even death, but when something happens to you, ask yourself, “What if…?” and imagine a funny scene in the situation you are in. In the Comedy Master Class with Judd Apatow, he tells the story of when Dana Carvey did an impression of Garry Shandling – a pretty evil one. When Dana Carvey called Garry to apologize, Garry told him not to worry about it and suggested to do an episode about it in his show “The Larry Sanders Show” – and they did it.
  • Build funny characters – Even in comedy writing, good funny characters are 3D characters. I recommend reading my post on writing a good character and checking out comedy films from different countries. You will find out that every country has its character type that works best for them. For example, the British love dumb characters, while the Americans like a protagonist that keeps on fighting in a crazy world. You will find out that every country has its character type that works best for them. For example, the British love dumb characters, while the Americans like a protagonist that keeps 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 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 is your audience, and what are they expecting. It is essential to know your audience and to find a way you can reach them. You may like writing American humour, but if that kind of humour doesn’t work in your country, you need to find a way to make it work for them.
  • Know how to write a punchlineMany 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 a funny situation out of it. Others like to start with a specific setup and then try ten different punchlines. You should do what works best for you, but I recommend starting from what is essential. If it’s the setup, start with the setup, and if it’s the punchline, start with it.
  • Surprise the audience – The element of surprise is fundamental in comedy. Taking the audience’s expectations and turning them around is what makes every punchline work. The characters should share the audience’s expectations too. The bigger the gap is between the character’s expectations and the actual result of the situation, the funnier it will be. Also, make sure your jokes haven’t been made a thousand times before. Be original!
  • Find locations with the potential to be funny. – If you find a good location, jokes will come with them. Go through your script, see which scenes can be done in a more exciting location, and think about all the funny situations you can draw from. Also, think about the props that every location can offer and what you can do with them.
  • Be creative – Your first tool as a comedy writer is your imagination. Being creative is vital 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 fascinating people that you think might be great to build characters from. Maybe it is one element about them that interests 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 always observes everything around him. That is the comedian’s job and the same for the comedy writer. That is the comedian’s job and the same for the comedy writer.
  • Write with a partner When you look at the credits in most of the comedy films out there, you will see that most comedies have a few scriptwriters. Writing with a partner is not always easy and fun as it may sound, but comedy writing is very recommended. When you write with others, you get to see live reactions to your ideas and jokes. When working with a partner on comedy, you should find someone with the expertise 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 get divorced.
  • Fix 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 aloud and see how they sound. With comedy, the text is not enough, and they should be acted funny as well. Pay attention to the rhythm of the lines. Sometimes only moving an adverb can make all the work or simply change one word (Is Pepsy is a funnier word than Cola?)Read it to others and see their reaction.

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