How genre signifiers build a scene in a single shot

Why do video parodies work so well? You immediately understand the scene so the action can speak for itself. From How Director Peter Atencio Acts as the Unsung, Essential Third Member of 'Key and Peele':

Many of the most popular K&P sketches are genre parodies, which play on our collective cultural understandings of the signifiers of a particular genre. In perhaps their most famous sketch, the East/West College Bowl, part of what makes us laugh immediately is the recognition of the codes of the sketch. Giving the viewer this comfort of recognition then allows them to play within the genre. As the names and characters get more and more ridiculous, much of what works about the joke is that it's still rooted in an extremely familiar framework. Atencio’s ability to appropriate semiotic codes as a way to build a frame for a sketch sets up K&P’s writing and performance perfectly.

What genre signifiers can do is build a scene in a single shot, before a word is spoken. No words need be wasted on setting a scene or tone because that work is done in advance by the director. All K&P need to do is inhabit the scene and build their characters and jokes. We've all seen many beginning level improv scenes fail because the actors spend too much time talking about where they are and what they are doing before they work to find what is unusual. Atencio gives K&P the ability to immediately go for what is unusual through creating authentic and real-feeling genre beats. Seemingly counterintuitively, because of Peter Atencio’s thoroughness in his direction and the creation of the aforementioned cinematic look, the performance is able to be the most tangible element in a scene because it's the element that feels the most uncomfortable or unusual to a viewer. If it looks like a horror film, and sounds like a horror film, then it’s funny when people don’t act like they are in a horror film.


We've seen something similar in our Vooza videos. When you're working within an understood framework, the jokes have that much more zing/surprise to 'em (see this Radimparency video). It's like the setup is already there for you.

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