In this video editing lesson, We’ll talk about video editing for a comedy. In comedy, video editing has an important role. A joke can fail or succeed by changing one frame or two, so understanding and learning how to make funny video edits is very important.
your first job as a comedy video editor will be to find out what kind of comedy it is. Humour is a broad term and every type of humour will need a different type of editing. In verbal humour, for example, the editor’s job is pretty limited, but in most visual comedies, the comedy editor has an important job in the process of building every joke.
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 humour can be vastly exaggerated, and one of the editor’s decisions 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.
The video editor also needs to understand, what is the source of the humour. Is it humour that is based on the character or is it a situation comedy? How much does the comedy depend on visuals and how much is it built on verbal.
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.
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
There are many aspect of timing when it’s come to comedy, but the most important one is Audience Engagement and Pacing. Pacing should be adjusted based on audience reactions. If a particular joke or scenario gets a roaring response, a pause to let the laughter subside might be needed. Conversely, if a joke doesn’t land as expected, the pacing might need to pick up to keep the energy going.
Here is a good example from the movie “Annie Hall”. I’m talking about the Lobster Scene, where Woody Allen’s character, Alvy, and Diane Keaton’s character, Annie, try to cook lobsters. Now it’s a one-shot. so there’s no video editing here, but the scene is a great example of how comedic timing allows for audience laughter, especially when Alvy jokes about sending the lobsters to the city.
Another good example is in “Mrs. Doubtfire”, on the Restaurant Scene, where Robin Williams’ character juggles between personas at a restaurant. The scene’s comedic timing is adjusted for audience reactions, especially when the disguise starts to fall apart.
In my scriptwriting course, I have a lesson called How to Write a ComedyScript?I recommend there on two courses in the MasterClass program you should take too in order to really understand how comedy works.
The MasterClass program is a platform with more than 100 classes (a lot of them are film classes too) that are being taught by the masters. In the field of comedy making, I recommend these classes:
1. Steve Martin Teaches Comedy – I truly believe this is one of the most important comedy classes out there. Steve Martin is a very respective comedian. that have practised all types of comedies. He started as a TV writer and a stand-up comedian, then he moved on to movie writing, novel writing and more, so there is a lot to learn from him about the anatomy of a joke. What I love about this online class is that between anything else 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.
2. Judd Apatow Teaches Comedy – The director of comedy hits like The 40-Year-old virgin, Knocked up, Girls, Pineapple Express, Superbad and so much more talks about all the stages of creating a comedy movie.
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
I recommend visiting the shooting set when you can. It will help you get into the humour 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.
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.
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.