How To Write Funny Dialogue

Funny dialogue is a tough one.

Is there an answer?

I mean, why is this funny?

Or this:

It's something to do with being rooted in character, something to do with words being used in slightly wrong categories... something to do with...

No. I don't know.

Then there is how personal it is. Maybe nothing in those two videos makes you laugh. Quite possible.

Funny dialogue experts

I asked around the friends I have who do write comedy and asked them to put their mind to describing what they do when they write comic dialogue.

They came up with….

Precisely nothing.

Even people 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.’

They all pretty well said: ‘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 other thing they did all say was that real comedy doesn’t start with 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

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.

First hand advice

If you want it first hand, then try this audio interview. It’s with Vanessa Haynes, who at the time of she spoke to us 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.

Maybe that helps a little.

In the meantime, just one more...

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