Saturday, January 14, 2012

Writing is hard.

Like anything writing is intensive. Anybody can have "unique ideas". But making them funny...Well, believe it or not it's not just putting the words to paper then patting yourself on the back and having a cocktail while you roll around in your own genius. That is merely the stretch to the sprint.
Good art is something that has been looked at from every angle. Then re worked with the same set of eyes looking at it with a "new" clarity. In theatre complete acts are flipped around. Characters cut. Scenes deleted. In simple drawing you make the blacks darker and the whites lighter in the revision.
In sketch writing you have to heighten everything without breaking it. Also, believe it or not, everything has to make some semblance of sense. Why are these characters here, right now, doing what they are doing? Also is "what" they are doing the best or funniest choice? Would it be funnier if they were somewhere else or in a different setting? Can any negative thing they are doing be made into a funnier positive thing?
The sketch that I brought to class was to be a parody commercial for a new home security product: Hobo Security. I presented our narrator at his home computer watching his Hobo keep his home safe. Once from thugs. Once from pesky trick or treaters. This hobo is great. He works for booze and leftovers....Then I added the caveat. The only thing you have to pay for is hobo wrangler insurance in case he goes bat shit crazy. Then I ended the skit with the Hobo, now naked, coming in to steal the homeowners computer. Not bad.
So how was this skit looked at in a new way. Why is it bad to have your Hobo freak out? Wouldn't you want that if there is a gang coming into your house? Does he have to steal the computer at the end or is it better if he climbs into bed? Why is the homeowner at his computer? Why break our preconceived mold of a "security commercial"? On that note, if you are going to parody something that is as familiar as a security commercial you should use the "norm" of security commercials. Use it! Climb in there and then make a funny.
This is part of the craft I am finding. Looking at something as simple as a security commercial and finding the blaringly obvious funny that has been there all along and point at it. Then insert a hobo.
For our next meeting I am to come up with two premises for "reveals". Example: 2 women are hidden in bathroom stalls. The one women ask the other for TP, then perfume, the a condom. Then the door opens and the women that asked for the things is an 80 year old women. (buh-dum-dum)
Also we have to rewrite one of our parodies. I'll probably go with the security one as my first one was a Head and Shoulders commercial that revealed the secret ingredient in Head and SHoulders was ground up magical elves.
Alright here are the other nuggets of truth that we garnished:
-specify your characters to add context
-when an entire writers room seems to riff the same way on something "harness the universality in the room"
-sometimes in a parody you have to bring people up to speed
-if you are sticking it to somebody a little to hard the funny might go away
-sometimes your idea is "in the right neighborhood but at the wrong address"
-identify your campaign and mission in the product of you parody and from that the funny will come
-sometimes you have to "use the explosion to put out the fire"
-entertain all the funnys from the original idea
-specificity will pull out the funny
-"it's sketch comedy, not oil painting comedy. sketch it out."
-if your parody looks or reads to real make sure you use that
-in how FEW words can I write this?
-"laughter is the sound of surprise"
keep it real.

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