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Screenwriting Help E-Mail (Previous)

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This week's question: 

I'm working on a comedy -- or trying to.  My question is... "How do you write funny"?

Deborah  from many cities 


This week's Answer: 

Funny You Should Mention It

That's very funny, Deborah.  Oh.  You weren't kidding.  Good question.  A virtually impossible one to answer, but a good question, none the less.  The best "funny" comes from the individual writer's unique perspective (or "POV" as we in the business like to call it.  Unless we just say "point of view."  Or "perspective.")  Others will laugh if you do (unless you happen to be taking valium or drinking cough syrup -- or other products that have a tendency to make you think you're Neil Simon or a well-paid sitcom writer or such -- while you write what you think is very funny at the time).

Here's a good tenet for writing comedy:

Don't Try To Be Funny!!!!!!!

Just let your audience / reader / your mother laugh when and if they or he or she want to.  Never try to force a laugh.  That's very important.  The best way to lose your audience -- even if they were just laughing a second ago -- is to let them know you're desperate for their laughter.  Just talk to a stand-up comic who has bombed on stage.  He'll tell you the same thing.  The same goes with drama, too.  Never let an audience see the strings that you're pulling to get them to feel a specific emotion.

Now, there are many types of comedy, all the way from slapstick to very subtle, dry, sarcastic  humor (The English seemed to corner that market.), but, even if you're throwing a pie (The Three Stooges seemed to corner that market), you still have to do it in a way that works integrally with the story.  The best comedy emanates -- and is not applied to -- the situation. 

No one is the authority on what is funny.  One person thinks something is funny, while another may not see it as so.  How does that saying go?  

One man's pratfall is another man's suicidal dive off a bridge.  

Maybe it doesn't go quite that way.  But the idea is that there will be those who find your sense of humor, your original view of the world as entertaining, as elucidating, as clever, and, yes, possibly even funny.  But remember:  Let "funny" happen.  Don't force "funny."  Forced "funny" is a terrible sight.  Many have never quite been the same after having been force-fed "funny."  It's not a pretty picture.  Or a funny one, for that matter.

When it comes to "writing funny" (whatever that is), I advise you actually to just write.  And let the "funny" take care of itself.

A case in point:   I've purposefully tried to not try to try to be funny through this entire column.

And I succeeded beautifully.

See what I mean?

DcH

 


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