CAN YOU BE TOO FUNNY?
By Craig Kellem
We recently worked with a writer who had written a promising script in theory
that is. Problem was that it was too broad. He tried way too hard to be funny
which, believe it or not, can be a real issue. Comedy (even when you laugh and
laugh often), that is hard to believe and that's constantly trying to be more
and more hysterical, can easily fall into the trouble zone because this route
can compromise critical reality.
It seemed to me that it could be a really good script but, no matter what I
said, he couldn't seem to divorce himself from "funny."
So I asked him to do something that might have seemed strange at the time. It
was to do a "beat sheet" noting all the major story components of the script AS
IS but to play it out ONLY AS A DRAMA.
This was the one "rule."
And I asked him to trust me.
What came back was quite remarkable. A really fine story which had been hiding
under all the schtick emerged as if by magic. It was now an offbeat, good
natured action piece, with lots of assets including some excellent twists and
turns. And now the script seemed reasonably believable. Sure it was still funny
but things were in much better proportion and you could BELIEVE IT.
So the new mandate for the actual writing of this script was now very apparent--
to rewrite the script using this reasonable reality as its basis. (The best
comedy uses reality as its predicate and takes generously from all areas of
life. This is usually much more potent than usage of just one dimension. Just
ask Jim Brooks).
Can't wait to read the draft. I'm very optimistic.
This was a good exercise. You may want to try it sometime.
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