I'm working on a series of online videos. I showed the scripts to a comedy director I respect and he gave me some really helpful notes. Here's some of what I wrote down during our meeting:
Every line should either 1) be a punchline, 2) push the story forward, or 3) explain the character.
Skip the explanation and start with the action.
Go to a ridiculous level. Keep heightening.
Define the characters. You should be able to put your finger over the person's name on script and still be able to tell who's talking just from the line.
Make reactions extreme, not just medium.
Define power structures. Clothes can help with this. Who is in charge? Who is in need?
Write short, funny conversations. Not jokes.
Grab people fast. They should laugh or be confused (in an intrigued way) within the first five seconds.
Character should mimic audience's confusion and be catching up to what's happening.
Slowly reveal info and have it get a little funnier each time. And then have a big joke at the end.
Spread out your jokes instead of having them come in one burst.
Define the conflict. Who wants what? Deny them and explore where it goes. Have someone who gets caught red-handed back out of it. Etc.
Use the punchline as the premise.
Have strong emotions. Hate. Jealousy. Fear. Defensiveness. That's what grabs people.
Define characters immediately in first line.
Heighten, heighten, heighten.
Define the game of each scene. Actually write it out so you know what the scene is about.
Internet audiences need to be hooked fast. You have 10 seconds to get 'em. Start funny and get funnier.
Edit out anything that's not needed. Cut out the chatter!
Sandpaper Suit is NYC standup comic Matt Ruby's (now defunct) comedy blog. Keep in touch: Sign up for Matt's weekly Rubesletter. Email email@example.com.
Tips on making funny online videos
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