1. Strategos1618
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    Strategos1618 New Member

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    The goal, to be funny. Help me dear writer.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Strategos1618, Jun 14, 2013.

    Hello,

    I am 19 years of age and I am looking for advice!

    I am about to embark on writing a short and hopefully funny film. I am willing to learn whatever I need to learn and work as much is needed.

    What advice do you have for me? as I understand it, one is to create funny from inspiration and also from comedic structure. I know nothing more than that and by that I mean I do not know exactly what a comedic structure is even.

    Also, will the study of rhetoric enhance my ability to make people laugh? from what I understand of comedy, it is a build up of emotion and then a sudden release of such tension. Of course one of the modes of persuasion is to appeal to the emotion, so I would think so, but I could be wrong as I am no expert on any of the things I am talking about.

    Forgive me on my grammar and assumptions, I am largely uneducated and know nothing.

    Any advice will be appreciated, I hope on hearing from you.


    THANKS!
     
  2. Scot McPhie
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    Scot McPhie Member

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    .
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2014
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    have you written any other shorts?... have you studied the award-winning humorous shorts?... have you downloaded and studied the scripts?... how long will yours run?

    for starters, to do what i've mentioned above...

    there isn't any one-template-fits-all for humor... comedy often arises from contrast... as in 'ordinary' people finding themselves in extraordinary situations... or v/v, with 'odd' folks dealing with 'normal' situations/events...

    i don't see how it can, if you don't have a gift for comedy to start with... i don't think one can be taught to have a quirky sense of humor... one either has it naturally, or doesn't...

    in some cases, but not all... some things are funny from the get-go... in film, there's visual humor like slapstick and then there's the more subtle kind that arises either from the dialog or a situation...

    i mentor aspiring screenwriters and filmmakers, so if you want help learning the ropes, let me know... i'm always just a mouse-click away...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  4. Caramello Koala
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    Caramello Koala Member

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    If you are making it a goal to be funny they you are already standing in your own way. Humour should come naturally and is not something that can really be boiled down to a science. Surely you have read a funny book, watched a funny movie or tv show, or had a moment with friends that had you in stitches laughing? Draw from these experiences to find out what it is that makes you laugh, and work from there. Don't worry too much about what makes other people laugh, because that is when your sense of humour starts to lose its naturalness and can sound forced, it also inhibits the chance for you to develop your own personal, and unique sense of humour.

    Watch stand up comedians and notice how they have different styles. Take for example, Mitch Hedberg compared to say Eddie Murphy. Mitch herberg uses short non related jokes, he delivers mostly non sequiters, one liners, humorous observations and wordplay. The power in his humour relies in his imaginative play on the English Language and his ability to twist the meaning of words and common situations with short and memorable one liners. An example of a joke of his that does this would be: "I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to too." Eddie Murphy has a different approach to his standup, and will tell longer jokes that are related to each other and often form a sort of narrative. Compared to Mitch Hedberg he will rely mainly on impersonations and stage presence to deliver his humour.

    You can also learn from funny TV shows. My favourite would have to be Seinfeld, it'll teach you all you have to know about observational humour, sarcasm, and funny characters/situations. Typically for something to be considered funny by a lot of people it has to be relatable on more than a personal level. Try to find situations that lots of people find themselves and write about them. The humorous is often always found in the mundane. Spend more time with funny people, they are very good at drawing your attention to the humour found in unlikely situations. Why are you adamant on pursuing comedy if you seem to know little about how to start writing within that framework? Wouldn't your time be better invested in an area of writing that you know and are more comfortable with?
     
  5. AshleyFinn
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    AshleyFinn Member

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    Well for my script I think of scenarios or scenes that make me laugh and then I write them. I think I have a pretty good sense of humor and I'm not very sensitive. It allows me to utilize many of my more embarrassing experiences as inspiration. Don't get discouraged, you can't be funny 100% of the time.
     
  6. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    Dialogue would probably be what does it.
    Read a short story about two soldiers and one of them said "My idea of a joke is a four-inch dick on a two-inch lieutenant." Made me laugh my ass off.
     
  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, my ass is difficult to shift, and is still firmly attached, but I must admit this made me laugh. Thanks, Blackstar! That 'visual' will stick with me a while, that's for sure.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i've been to ephesos and delos and seen the ancient greeks' statuary equivalents of that over/under-endowed loot...

    it sure weren't pretty!........... :eek:
     
  9. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The only advice I can offer is that one thing I learned about being funny is that whenever I set out to be funny, I almost always fail. The only funny stuff I've ever produced has just... happened, basically by accident: I'm writing something serous / "normal," and I just get some stupid idea and there it is, a funny scene / phrase / whatever.

    Blackstar, great quote, had me laughing as well. :D Where is it from / who said it? I'm collecting quotes and that one definitely makes the list.
     
  10. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    From the character Ryan in the short story "Causality" by Tobias Wolffe. And as far as humor goes, whenever I'm funny in real life, it's because I made a joke that was clever,witty, or unexpected. If anything, look at comedians and see if you laugh at their jokes, and when you do, ask yourself why you laughed.
     
  11. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    The funniest humor is embarrassing stuff about the person telling the story. The main character is telling the story but is not a tough guy or macho superhero. Try out some of the Patrick McManus stories, in your local library. A book typically has a few dozen stories and they are between 6-12 pages long. Quick reads. They were stories from Field and Stream, so they are often about fishing and hunting.
     
  12. Holden
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    Holden Senior Member

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    Two tidbits about comedy:

    First, real humor comes from truth. I know I have the problem of trying too hard to be funny in scripts, by creating scenarios or conversations with the explicit intent of stuffing them with jokes or funny lines. The problem is it feels too fake. Funny movies are filled with characters who utterly believe what they're saying and are each trying to achieve goals with the sincerity and intent of characters in a dramatic film. Don't craft dialogue by having a group of witty characters. Just write characters trying to reach their goals, albeit in an oddball or goofy manner, which leads me to point dos...

    Subvert audience expectations. The punchline of a joke holds power because it turns what the audience was thinking on its head. The chicken and road jokes are still funny because the comedian can give an answer we were never expecting. The same holds true for a comedy script. As I was saying above, characters need to go about their day-to-day lives thinking it's perfectly normal but it has to be in a way we wouldn't expect.

    A final note: listen to as much comedy as you can. Listen to stand-up to see how to craft a joke. Guys like George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, Louis C.K., Mitch Hedburg, Jim Gaffigan, Patton Oswald, etc. are all great. In addition, watch as many comedies as you can. See how they use the narrative structure (or subvert it) and try and craft your own.
     
  13. Rimuel
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    Rimuel Member

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    Often, things are funny because they are unexpected. However, note that there are some things that don't get old no matter how many times they are told. This is likely because although the joke was told over and over again, people's expectations didn't change much, so it remains funny.



    ~Rimuel Zener~
     
  14. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Cheers, went into the quote list.

    As for the topic, I know I'm supposed to be an adult by now, well educated, civilized, etc. but for the most part, farts are still funny. Toilet humor alá South Park (esp. the early seasons when they were more about being quirky and unexpected instead of focusing on the gross and over-the-top) and Monty Python. I know both are much more than what I consider toilet humor, but you get the idea.

    I also like when authors play with character stereotypes and make fun of them. Like showing a handsome knight on a white charger, all manly and stuff, and then something embarassing happens to him after a glorious, heroic tone has been set in the beginning.

    Another thing I like is this kind of... I'm not sure if it's really sarcasm, but William Dale Jennings does it really well in The Ronin. It's almost like the narrator is constantly making fun of the reader (well, humans in general, societies and individuals alike), taking a piss at our weaknesses, insecurities etc. In a way it's riding on a high horse, but if it's done right, my focus isn't on whether the author walks the walk, because I'm envisioning the narrator to be just another character in the story (although he never appears in the story / hasn't / doesn't affect the world he tells about in any way), a fictional creation, so the question whether the author himself suffers from the same weaknesses and insecurities he's making fun of becomes moot. Douglas Adams was a master at this sort of a thing, a more famous example of the same thing even if the tones of the two works are very different (Jennings is much more upfront and gritty while Adams is funnier and more witty... heh, that rhymed).
     

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