How to write semi-scripted comedy a la Larry David

Jeff Schaffer (The League) talks about creating semi-scripted productions.

I learned how to write comedy from Larry [David] and Jerry [Seinfeld] and it was all about structure. Structure, structure, structure. A Seinfeld episode and a Curb episode and a League episode are all written the exact same way: Working out a structure on a dry erase board, figuring out what the scenes are and what the beats of the scene are, making this sort of comedy geometry out of all the stories. The same thing we did with Seinfeld—"We need a Jerry story, we need a George story, we need an Elaine story"—it’s the same thing we do on The League. We need stories for all the guys. And you figure out what’s funny about the story and all the intersections and connections that make it a satisfying 22 minutes, and put all that in an outline...

Here’s the way The League works: we write an outline and it’s 10 to 12 pages for a 21-minute show. It’s got all the scenes in it: what happens in the scenes, a lot of jokes, and a lot of specific lines. The first time we're doing the scene, it's basically like rehearsing on film. Everyone’s sort of feeling out his or her spots and you do a little air-traffic control. "Okay, let him say that. You're saying these things way too early. Maybe say that after this." You’re figuring out where everything goes. After people start revving up, the trick is to always leave room for amazing digressions. That’s where the magic happens.


Good line from it: "Shooting a show is like getting mugged in an alley: it’s really fast and you can’t remember what happened."

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1 Comment(s)

OpenID thedevilcorp said...

Good site.

3/15/16, 7:41 PM