Digital Video Editing for a Comedy

comedy scene

In this digital video editing lesson, We’ll talk about digital video editing for a comedy. In comedy, digital video editing has an important role. A joke can fail or succeed by changing one frame or two, so understanding and learning the art of digital video editing in a comedy is very important. While you are reading this lesson, you must remember that humor is a broad term and every type of humor will need a different type of editing. 

In verbal humor, for example, the editor’s job is pretty limited, but in most of the visual comedies, the video editor has an important job in the process of building every joke. 

So your first job as a video editor will be to find out what kind of comedy it is. For example, in character-based comedies like Charlie Chaplin, the Marx Brothers, Austin Powers, Peter Sellers, and others, the editor will have to meet certain expectations from the audience regarding the comic character. In this case, if the comic character is doing a good job, you shouldn’t do too much editing.

In Satires, the humor can be vastly exaggerated, and one of the editor’s decision will be when to stop the joke. If the joke is at the expense of the other, the video editor will highlight the brutality of what happened to the victim up to a certain limit, when it is no longer funny.

Make sure you completely understand the type of comedy you are editing and what its purpose is. Is it to make the main comic character look very funny or crazy, or is it the situations that need the focus.

What does the editor need to edit a comedy?

So as we’ve explained before, the editor first needs to understand the type of humor he is dealing with, but also what is the source of the humor is. Is it humor that is based on the character or is it a situation comedy? How much does the comedy depend on visual and how much is it built on verbal. 

It is always recommended to shoot jokes from a few different angles, especially the punchline. If the source of comedy is a surprise, are there enough reaction shots to enhance the surprise? and of course the video editor needs to read the script and understand whose point of view is represented here

laughing in a movie theatre

Timing in digital video editing for a Comedy 

In verbal comedies such as sitcoms, the video editor can’t do a lot but using his timing sense. The timing sense is an important tool the video editor must develop when working on a comedy. The editor should keep asking himself, how long can we pull that joke on? When do I raise the rhythm of the editing? And when to put the punchline? In sitcoms, timing will also be to decide how long the crowed laughter is going to last. The only way to decide what’s the right timing for each joke is to simply try. There are many ways to show each joke, so be patient and don’t be afraid to keep trying new ideas.

Get involved in the production

I recommend visiting the shooting set when you can. It will help you get into the humor atmosphere in the film, and you can also give the director notes that will help in the editing room. Visiting the set might be hard in feature films, but it can work great on sketches, short films, or even sitcoms.

Make sure everything is clear

When the audience is confused, he won’t be relaxed enough to laugh at the jokes. Many directors like to show unusual camera angles – I think that is the kind of thing that interrupts the comedy. In a case like this, you should talk with the director and understand what id more important for him? To show these great camera angles or that audience will laugh?

The main tip you need to understand here is that the more realistic your situation is going to be presented (even when far fetched from reality), the easier it will be for the audience to relate and laugh at it.

Reaction shot – the #1 tool for digital video editing for a comedy

The reaction shot is a very important tool for comedic editing. It is a shot that shows how the characters in the situation react to the situation. I recommend looking for the good reaction shots in the going through the rushes stage. The reaction shot allows the audience to relate to the characters and express what they are feeling, but can’t express it. It also gives time for the audience to laugh before the joke continues.


In this example, Dr. Evil talks about his childhood life. The reaction shots show us how the other characters are starting to understand that he is crazy, and the more they realize it, the more we are on the same level, and the scene becomes funnier.

If you want to edit a comedy, I recommend watching lots of comedies and understanding what the video editor does, that makes the joke work.