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Comedy Rules!

November 26, 2017

If you want to write comedy that rules, then include these ten rules of laughter:

 

Contrast

 

Examples include inappropriate behavior such as snickering at a funeral or a boisterous, aggressive, violent "anger counselor" who loses all control or an adult who acts like a baby [literally] or a moment like the following in the 1997 movie "Mousehunt".

 

 

Relief

 

Pain or awkwardness followed by laughter such as seen in the following movie clip from the classic 1949 movie titled "Africa Screams" (from 2:10 to 4:30) as actor Bud Abbott thinks his sidekick Lou Costello has died.

 

 

Superiority

 

Arrogance and fascism, which is egregious and nauseous to the audience, is displayed by someone who is extremely incompetent which gives the audience a sense of satisfaction and comic relief as seen in this classic 'Andy Griffith' television episode as Deputy Barney Fife demonstrates his superiority to the other deputies.

 

 

Wordplays

 

Words that have two or more meanings, such as double-entendres or other such wordplays, are a time-tested way to bring laughs with the right chemistry as can be seen in this classic comedy routine by Abbott and Costello known as "Who's on First?". 

 

 

Misunderstandings

 

Comedy can transpire when law enforcement interprets certain activity to be "terrorist" which turns out to be teens playing video games, or when actions or body language are misinterpreted to mean something by a spouse that is actually found to be the opposite of what they thought, or when comments change via time or media, such as seen in the following commercial for the Chevy Cruze Eco. 

 

 

Exaggeration

 

This technique could be broken into three categories of 1) verbal, 2) facial, and 3) body language, so below are three videos of these categories in the order just described:  Steve Martin's classic verbal parody, 

 

 

 

 

Contradictions

 

Examples of this technique include someone saying "oh, it's not that simple" and immediately, the scene cuts to where they are saying "see how simple it is". In other cases, like that in the following video from Andy Griffith's "Citizen's Arrest" episode, it may be the result of an actual contradictory double-standard that backfires.

 

 

Stupidity

Though I searched the internet with diligence, I had great difficulty in finding short clips of Jason Gray-Stanford's depiction of the deputy sheriff 'Randy Disher', whose acting demo reel has one of the few available glimpses of his work on the TV show "Monk"; therefore, if you want to see Jason's depiction of "Randy" go view that television series and my opinion is that you will find the very best examples of comedy via stupidity in all of show business as you watch 'Randy Disher' in action. Nobody else comes close.

 

Slapstick

 

As the stylistic name implies, slapstick is all about getting laughs through slaps, smacks, pokes, and other physical pain and encumbrances that in reality cause us great grief, and which thus in the fantasy realm of entertainment provide us many laughs. 

 

Frustrations and Life Issues

 

Similar to the devices of slapstick and relief, this final technical rule of comedy is a way of providing laughter to the audience as a way of escape from everyday challenges of life.

 

 

Comedy exaggerates life's mishaps and allows us to laugh at our own plights, challenges, ignorance and shortcomings in life instead of becoming angry or bitter, and therefore, allowing us to be healthier, of a sounder mind, and more aware that others struggle with the same problems.

 

In summary, the following are tools you can use in your comedic routines or screenplays.

 

  1. Contrast 

  2. Relief 

  3. Superiority 

  4. Wordplays 

  5. Misunderstandings

  6. Exaggerations

  7. Contradictions 

  8. Stupidity 

  9. Slapstick 

  10. Frustrations and Life Issues

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