Can you think of a movie that got you laughing so hard you thought your chest was going to cave in? That was a great comedy! And it's all down to the screenplay.
Writing comedy isn't a piece of cake, but the truth is you don't have to be incredibly funny to write a comedic screenplay. Conversely, just because saying funny things comes naturally to you doesn't guarantee you're already an inherently good comedy screenwriter..
What exactly is comedy?
One vital thing to note before writing comedy is that a great comedy isn't one that only has a lot of laughs; a great comedy is one that has a solid, relatable story, well-developed characters, and ends with a take-home lesson while keeping the audience humorously entertained from start to finish.
Ultimately, a comedy script is written with humor at heart to make the audience laugh. So as a screenwriter, how do you achieve this?
1. Create relatable, well-developed characters
People tend only to find something funny when they can relate to it. To write a comedy script, it's essential to make your characters everyday people struggling with everyday challenges that the audience can connect with. Whether they're trying to find love or having a hard time at work, the more detailed your character's background is, the more relatable and funnier they are to your audience.
2. Lead the audience with a solid story
Again, a great comedy is not one in which the audience laughs at every line. If there is only laugh and no story, the audience quickly tires out.
There must be something your lead character is trying to attain in the whole story. While at it, make the character encounter laughable situations and have some hilarious lines in their dialogue. Make sure your audience can relate to such humorous lines. Avoid bringing them out of the blue or the essence would be defeated.
3. Incorporate Drama
Including elements of drama such as emotional and unexpected events will spice up your show. If it's all about making the audience crack up, it will take you years to get enough lines for that, not to mention how boring it will become since comedy screenplay isn't a standup joke.
4. Incorporate Human Truth
The things that make us laugh the most are inherent truth about us that touches our hearts to the core. They're funny because they're true! However, ensure such lines stay true to the character's personality and sense of humor.
5. End with a take-home Lesson
Every good comedy should have a happy ending and a great lesson that brings warm smiles to the viewer.
Extra Tips to Punch up your Comedy Script
Think about a funny personal experience you've had. If it was funny to you and those around you, chances are it'll be funny to your audience as well. Just make sure it's what your audience can relate to.
Never let your audience catch you trying to be funny. Humor is an extension of the speaker and a function of the situation wrapped up in that very moment. You produce laughter when it comes out of context (from the situation), not by forcing it in the wrong places.
Choose words and sentence structure with humor in mind. The same sentence can be structured differently; while one provokes laughter, the other doesn't. Try to have a list of funny words and double entendres and find the most amusing way to write lines in the script.
Not everyone has to be funny in your script. You may be tempted to make all your characters funny, but humor works best when you have a specific character(s) whose personality is humorous from the beginning to the end of the movie.
Go over your script and remove whatever assets feel out of place. You'll see them, and you'll know to remove them.
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