I am a lover of most things comedy: stories, movies, and TV shows.
For me, comedic writing is one of the toughest genres to write. So many of us (new and old writers) try too hard to be funny, and in the end, it sounds forced and… well, just plain not funny.
Comedies entertain me, and they also make me think. Slapstick, ridiculous comedies (sometimes fused with drama) like Psych; genre-shifting, parody-laden, bawdy comedies like Archer (my fave show on TV); and comedies that speak harsh truths to social issues, such as Chappelle's Show all speak to my funny bone.
As a writer, I like thinking about the comedic writers' ability to make comedy integral to a story, not forced but fluid.
The biggest takeaway I get from good comedic writing is TIMING, and to that end, comedy has a lot to do with music; it, too, has rhythm, tempo, beat.
Those stories, movies, and TV shows that infuse comedy in a fluid way, making it integral to the storyline, have a rhythm to the storyline, and the funnies all manage to hit on the right beats. If the writer drops the funny too soon or too late, the funny falls flat.
The term comic timing is often used when speaking of comedic writing. Comic timing "is the use of rhythm, tempo, and pausing to enhance comedy and humour" ("Comic timing," Wikipedia). The pausing is typically called the beat, "a pause taken for the purposes of comic timing, often to allow the audience time to recognize the joke and react, or to heighten the suspense before delivery of the expected punch line" ("Comic timing," Wikipedia).
When I think about timing, it mirrors what is referred to as "comic timing," but it goes beyond that, too. The rhythm, tempo, and beat are not just about setting up a joke, its punchline. For me, it's about making the comedy so integrated to the story that there is no pause for the audience to "get it" because the comedic beat is one of several beats that help to create a story's "song." It's a very fine, subtle distinction, but for me, it's an important one.
What are some of your favorite comedies (stories, movies, TV)? How does timing make your favorites successful?
|Creative Passionista Shon Bacon is an author, a crafter, an editor, and an educator whose biggest joys are writing and helping others develop their craft. You can learn more about Shon at her website, ChickLitGurrl.|