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A Previous E-Mail of The Week 

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This week's question: 

Is it easier to write a comedy than a drama?  I want to write one (a comedy), but I’m not sure where to start.

Daniele from France


This week's Answer: 

Now that’s a funny question.  Or a very serious one.  Actually, comedies are a challenging breed.  According to my experience with the genre, humor is tricky and whimsical, and must be written and executed with just the right touch to get it across and pull it off.  As they say, comedy is much more difficult than drama (and I say that dramatically).  Humor is much more individualistic than drama.  It is easier to create a dramatic storyline than a comedic one.  “Why?” you may ask.  Well, one way of looking at it is that we as the audience know the drama concourse, and are very familiar with its milestones that tell us how to be sympathetic and react towards the protagonist as he/she confronts the escalating obstacles.  In a sense, we’re already programmed to “build our tears” and let them roll on cue.  (Laughs we don’t build as much; they just seem to pop out.)  Comedic milestones are not as easy to track, being that comedy is a wide field that includes many dissimilar tastes and styles.  What’s funny to one individual may not even produce a chuckle in another.  Some like broad humor and slapstick, while others prefer the subtle version.  “So where does this leave me?” says the confused screenwriter?  In fact, it leaves you in quite a nice spot:  a place where you can explore your own, unique sense of humor.  How does an adjusted version of that saying go?  You can make some people laugh some of the time.  But you can’t make all of them laugh all of the time.  

Now that I’ve convinced you that you’ll never be able to get everybody to laugh at your script (I sure can build confidence, can’t I?), you can relax and ask what do you think and feel is funny?  If you don’t know (which is highly unlikely), you can simply use your memory to bring back moments that you thought were hysterical, or at least mildly amusing (in movies, books, peoples’ stories and jokes—and, of course, real life—which is really quite funny when you look at it a certain way.  A perspective that you will often need if you’re going to be writing comedic scripts.)  If you take a close look at those funny moments, they’ll give you an excellent insight into your inimitable, irreplaceable, distinctive... sense of humor.  Now you can use your own Sense of Humor Template and start writing!  I know this may seem inordinately simplistic, but, keeping in mind that simplicity can be powerful:  Write what makes you laugh.  I do have one warning, though:  Be careful to not enjoy yourself too much in the process and laugh so hard that you fall off your chair and hit your funny bone (which we all know, for some reason, never feels funny).

DcH


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