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Old 10-09-2017, 09:28 AM   #1
stevencwood
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Injecting Comedy into Non-Comedic Topics

Writing comedy is subjective enough, but what about when you're tasked to write comedy into a topic which has no comedic element? Do you rely on a "funny" situation while the characters speak in a serious tone? Or what about make fun of the topic and deliver it in a satirical way?


These questions I've asked myself all week as I'm suffering from a case of writer's block.


I'll gladly share the talent involved and the topic. The talent is well known, and I just stumbled into this opportunity.


'm not looking for anyone to help me write it, but I'd love to spit-ball some ideas off people who have experience in this type of writing.

Last edited by stevencwood; 10-09-2017 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 10-09-2017, 10:52 AM   #2
WalterB
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No thing is too serious for humor.
But not humor is good taste :p

Last year I directed a dark comedy about sexism. A serious issue many (mostly) women have to deal with. The acting was both frivolous and serious and that worked pretty well in this situation.
My next short will be drama and it will be delivered seriously, but that will only amplify the silliness of the drama that unfolds.

Since you can not choose: why not try both ways?
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Old 10-09-2017, 10:54 AM   #3
stevencwood
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Originally Posted by WalterB View Post
No thing is too serious for humor.
But not humor is good taste :p

Last year I directed a dark comedy about sexism. A serious issue many (mostly) women have to deal with. The acting was both frivolous and serious and that worked pretty well in this situation.
My next short will be drama and it will be delivered seriously, but that will only amplify the silliness of the drama that unfolds.

Since you can not choose: why not try both ways?

Here's a long-winded explanation on what exactly I'm doing.


Alright, here it goes...try to stay with me. I'll start by saying the idea behind this isn't mine, I'm merely tasked with the screenwriting.

The theme is culture, and how the vast majority of us are ignorant to what exactly that means. Bryan Callen (Mad TV, The Ten Minute Podcast, Fighter and The Kid Podcast), the person who crafted this whole thing, has put together a curriculum that is built around a martial arts belt system, where each belt represents a different level of "enlightenment." The goal is to, via written pieces (on a website), educate people on what culture means and how our lives are essentially built around them. Other ideas what are covered include how people have evolved yet still remain in a specific culture. Whether or not it's a good idea to let our culture shape us, or if we as a whole should do the shaping.

There is a lot of philosophizing going on here, and by someone who doesn't hold a degree in that field. So some of the ideas aren't exactly perfect, but that isn't my concern. One of those ideas is how are we defined as a people if you remove our culture? Do we belong to the "right" culture?

Still with me? This is a very "self-important" type of project, and I realized that when I started reading the long-form stuff on the site. It's fine, because they know that as well.

So, I need to come up with 9 short (for each belt, maybe 3-5) minute pieces. Each of these shorts will focus on the topic covered under it's related belt.

The through-line I've created is to have Bryan be a sort of teacher, coming off in a preachy, holier than thou fashion. I know his voice pretty well, and I've received that comment through feedback which is good. The person he's teaching is Will Sasso (Mad TV, Three Stooges Movie, Super Troopers 2, etc). I wrote him as a someone who idolizes Bryan to the point of listening to whatever he says...whatever he says. Throughout their journey Will is going to question Bryan's own knowledge on the topic, and I'm probably going to have Will grow more powerful than Bryan in the end.


I wrote an introductory piece and shared with the people involved - they dug it and said give us an outline or a beat sheet. I have some locations in mind and some dialogue, but I'm not sure if I want to move forward with just "two guys hanging out and talking" type of shorts.


Here's the piece, which has some deliberately cheesy stuff because it's their humor.


https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B_...ndyWnNuY2MzZm8
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Old 10-09-2017, 11:05 AM   #4
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Yes, humor/comedy is very subjective. What you find funny may strike me as "Meh".

In a project that involves serious topics the humor comes from the reactions of the people involved. There are many professions - such as the military, law enforcement, medicine, and emergency services - where the practitioners face horrors frequently. They engage in "dark humor" that is funny for them as "insiders" (but doesn't always translate well for the rest of us). It's a defensive reflex; if you don't do something to deflect those horrors you'll go crazy. The TV show "M*A*S*H" did this frequently, although, admittedly, the one of the premises of the show was "insanity in the cause of mental health."
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Old 10-09-2017, 11:08 AM   #5
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Yes, humor/comedy is very subjective. What you find funny may strike me as "Meh".

In a project that involves serious topics the humor comes from the reactions of the people involved. There are many professions - such as the military, law enforcement, medicine, and emergency services - where the practitioners face horrors frequently. They engage in "dark humor" that is funny for them as "insiders" (but doesn't always translate well for the rest of us). It's a defensive reflex; if you don't do something to deflect those horrors you'll go crazy. The TV show "M*A*S*H" did this frequently, although, admittedly, the one of the premises of the show was "insanity in the cause of mental health."
I agree. The unfortunate limitations I have are length of the shorts and budget. These are to be crowd funded AFTER I provide a beat sheet. I can lay out how this will go down via dialogue, no a problem, but it's the locations I'm worried about. I have to be budget and time conscious.

I want to put these guys in "x" location and have "y" happen to them. But if something happens with the budget and/or time that will hinder this from happening - I'm fucked.
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Old 10-09-2017, 11:18 AM   #6
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But that's a sin qua non filmmaking - you are always adapting to the circumstances of budget, casting, etc., etc., etc.
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Old 10-09-2017, 11:20 AM   #7
stevencwood
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But that's a sin qua non filmmaking - you are always adapting to the circumstances of budget, casting, etc., etc., etc.
I know there's that old saying "write your dream then let the accountant hack away at it." Maybe it isn't a saying exactly, but you get what I'm saying.

Maybe I should say fuck it and write them where I want them, and let them figure it out.
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Old 10-09-2017, 12:08 PM   #8
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If that's what you've been hired to do, then just write it.
Producing it isn't your problem.
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Old 10-09-2017, 12:11 PM   #9
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If that's what you've been hired to do, then just write it.
Producing it isn't your problem.
True, and I think I'll just go ahead and do that and wait for comments. Well, I need to do an outline or a beat sheet at the very least.
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Old 10-09-2017, 01:00 PM   #10
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Good luck! Writing is only the first step in comedy. Just like in stand up, timing and delivery is everything, in other words, do your thing as the writer! Then, they will decide on delivery, timing, etc... examples being... tone, editing, sound fx, laugh track, pacing... on and on. Basically what Mara said. You write, they make it happen (produce).
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Old 10-09-2017, 01:05 PM   #11
stevencwood
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Good luck! Writing is only the first step in comedy. Just like in stand up, timing and delivery is everything, in other words, do your thing as the writer! Then, they will decide on delivery, timing, etc... examples being... tone, editing, sound fx, laugh track, pacing... on and on. Basically what Mara said. You write, they make it happen (produce).
There's a bit of a self-consciousness vibe going on as I'm somewhat intimidated by the people involved. I just kinda happened into this. I'm a fan of Bryan and Will from Mad TV, then when they did a podcast together, and now individually. Through Reddit, I talked to Bryan's co-host for his current podcast and he knew I was a long time fan and a wannabe-screenwriter. So he said write something up, which I did, and he liked it and passed it to his team. I posted the 6 page intro piece in the initial post if you're interested. I'm going for somewhat of a satirical take since the subject matter is so self-important and filled with pseudo-philosophy.

He'll get Bryan involved when the beat sheet is finished and then we move to Kickstarter or something similar.
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Old 10-09-2017, 05:15 PM   #12
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Topics aren't funny. Perspectives on them can be, but there is no inherently "funny" subject matter.

Most humor lies in behavioral patterns and warped points of view, so you needn't even make fun of the topic.
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Old 10-10-2017, 02:51 PM   #13
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In my standup act I have 3 jokes in a row - brain cancer, the holocaust and sex offenders.

People laugh at all 3
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Old 10-10-2017, 02:57 PM   #14
stevencwood
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In my standup act I have 3 jokes in a row - brain cancer, the holocaust and sex offenders.

People laugh at all 3
I know what I like in terms of comedy, and that's usually dark humor like Anthony Jeselnik and the like. When it comes to movies I appreciate Very Bad Things and American Psycho for it's funny elements.

Funny dialogue, fine, but it's the "putting them into funny situations while conveying a message" that I'm struggling with. I'll figure something out.
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Old 10-10-2017, 03:53 PM   #15
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it's the "putting them into funny situations while conveying a message" that I'm struggling with. I'll figure something out.
What if you have similar crotch situations, but in the next one, have Bryan wear tights, & in the next one, shorts, then a Speedo, & have each one be related to the culture.
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