Jokes that need narrative and emotional undergirding

Deep dive on Comedy Central and how it's "in the middle of a creative renaissance — and a business-model crisis." Interesting bit: This discussion about how comics who are good at getting laughs still need help with narrative and character development.

Gifted comedians might excel at creating tone and finding novel laughs, but they often need a hand reconciling these skills with the mechanical and structural demands of a traditional series...“We had never written anything” for television, Abbi Jacobson said, “so Comedy Central needed someone there with us in the writers’ room.” She added, “They wanted us to focus more on the characters’ drives, and to learn how to work within the structure of act breaks.”

Jokes land most satisfyingly when they’re supported by narrative and emotional undergirding, Alterman says...Jargowsky, characterizing Comedy Central’s priorities and proclivities from the producer’s end, explained that “when I go to pitch them on a workplace comedy, they’ll ask really specific questions, like, What is the characters’ relationship to their work? Are they successful? Why do they hang out with each other?” There’s good reason for this, he said: “When you pitch a movie, you’re telling a story, but when you pitch a TV show, you’re kind of describing a game like chess, where the characters are the pieces. Let’s have a rook that moves this way and a bishop who moves that way — but what if a knight showed up? You’re creating this interlocked network of gears that you can wind up and, if you’ve done it right, you have a comedic perpetual-motion machine.”


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7/31/15, 6:57 AM