I called in a few favours, asked around the friends I have who DO write comedy – asked them to put their mind to describing what they do when they write comic dialogue, and they came up with….
Even guys who specialised in comedy, who are famous for their sparky dialogue, couldn’t put this process into words in a way that they could really, hand on heart stand by and say – ‘that’s how it works.’
Or ‘You’re either funny or you’re not. If you get laughs, you are, if you don’t, then you’re not.’
But, you know, the one thing they did all say was that real comedy doesn’t really come from the dialogue.
That’s how the comedy reaches the viewers in the end of course, but if you just try to write funny lines the odds are you will only ever produce something that is shallow, and unsustaining.
Start With Character
The only recommendation these writer friends of mine all did have was to start with the characters, and look at what they want, and try to introduce a gap between their perception of themselves, and the reality of what they are really like.
Think of Basil Fawlty. Or the boss in The Office. Each time there is a massive gap between the sort of guy they see themselves to be, and the sort of guy we see them to be.
Maybe that helps a little?
Listen To What The Producers Want
On the other hand, one of the great things about the Screenwriting Goldmine is we have access to the real people in the industry. If you want to hear what a real comedy producer looks for then you should take time to listen to this audio interview. It’s with Vanessa Haynes, who at the time of the interview was Head of Development at Baby Cow – one of the most successful, and individual, comedy production companies in the UK. Vanessa is great, and she takes time to lay open exactly what she is looking for. Listen to the interview.
Funny Isn’t Enough
Writing a whole series of funny scenes is an achievement in itself, but, I hate to break it to you, the odds are it’s not going to be enough.
If you think about your favourite funny films, I bet most of the laughs are framed by a very solid story.
To get some top class help with constructing the kind of strong story that will hook people and keep them reading so you can hit them with your comedy, then just click over to take a closer look at my screenwriting and story package.
It’s fully downloadable; you could be reading it within ten minutes.