My Monday post was a terribly un-funny look at the raw guts of humor.
Now for the funny part….
My first discovery was that I absolutely cannot write in screenplay format. Tried. Total kill to my creativity. So I wrote in narrative and then translated to screenplay format after all was done.
My second discovery was that I had to not over-think the comedy. I needed to just get in-character and go with it. I’m way too novice to do anything but intuit the funny.
Rough drafts are always … rough. This was no exception. But when you’re rough in comedy writing, well, you’re just not funny. Or funny enough. Once the first draft was done, I put my intentional writer hat on and looked at how to amp up the funny-factor in my situations (since I’m really writing sit-com), rather than amping up the tension (as I would in a drama). And there was still a story to navigate – it had to have a beginning, middle, and end, even if it was told in 1 minute skits across an hour by 6th grade actors in front of a microphone. Yeah, no problem!
I looked for gaps between expectation and reality and made them wider. I looked for character contradictions and made them stronger. I gave characters mannerisms that would gather a chuckle and obey the rule that the funniest characters have a “humour” to which they are completely blind – an obsessive drive that they cannot perceive, but everyone else can. Which makes us laugh at them.
In the end, I just printed out the pages and handed them to Dark Omen, resident 6th grader and humor expert. He took it off into another room and read the script to his younger brothers.
There were giggles. I was happy.
Dark Omen, Mighty Mite, and I acted out the entire play for an audience of one (Worm Burner), and it got a few more chuckles. We timed it, to make sure we were within the 1-2 min time frame allowed for these snippets between the real acts of the variety show. We’ll still have to trial run it past my fellow skit coordinator and her son, not to mention the Variety Show Committee for their approval.
But humor no longer terrifies me, and I have a good handle on screenplay formatting now.
Sometimes I think almost all writing is a leap of faith into the unknown. I’m just glad when I don’t land in a pile of sharks.
p.s. Because you asked for it, here’s a snippet from the script.
SET-UP: The Love Boat theme was determined by the Variety Show Committee, so I had to work from there. The story involves three arcs (crew, pirates, and stowaways) and their adventures in between the Golden Nugget variety acts on board the ship. This is the second skit, where the pirates are introduced…(formatting is different, because Blogger hates screenplays)
to get rich, sneaks onto the stage with PIRATE2, who just wants snacks and a
cool pirate name. PIRATE1 is carrying a pirate hook in one hand, and PIRATE2
has a pirate bandana on.)
find out where they’re keeping the Golden Nuggets!
think they’ll have dipping sauce?
smoothie? I like smoothies, especially strawberry smoothies. Big chunks of
nuggets are hidden.