So you consider yourself a capable laugh generator. OK Mr./ Mrs. Funny, you want to try your hand at writing comedy for a living, do you have the skills to be the next Seinfeld? Here are a few ways to get into the business of tickling peoples’ funny bones (that sounded a lot dirtier than I intended it to be).
Know the trope
Knowing as much as possible about what has already been done will help you create something unique. Actually it’ll help you copy it. Tropes in sitcoms are used again and again for a reason; they get laughs. The nerd, the jock, the comic relief guy and the pretty girl combination is comedy gold. Even Shakespeare did it in the hilarious dramedy Romeo and Juliet. Romeo was the pretty boy jock, Juliette was the pretty girl and Mercutio the comic relief. When Shakespeare had Mercutio say: “A plague o’ both your houses! They have made worms’ meat of me.” He was attempting to establish the character as comic relief. Worms’ meat! Oh Mercutio you’re too much!
There’s a specific way finicky actors and directors want their lines written, called a script. Comedy has no structure! And yet it does. Learn how to compose a script, how acts work and what A’ Story, B’ Story and Running Story means. You can only have your chicken cross the road so many times before your viewer starts questioning the chicken’s motivation. Maybe you’ll learn how to work in some back story. For example, what if the chicken saw its Mother get killed crossing the road while looking for her estranged husband? That would explain why it compulsively crosses it itself, hoping to meet its mother in the afterlife. Orphans and losing your will to live are hilarious! Remember comedy is tragedy plus time after all.
You want Chicken to become the next Friends. They’ve both got one word titles which is an absolute must for a hit sitcom. Think Community, Fraiser, Cheers and the Detroit Murder-persons. You don’t know that last one do you? That’s because it was cancelled after the pilot, solely due to it having more than one word in the title. It has nothing to do with the murder part. Murder can be hilarious! Comedy is tragedy plus time! Wow you can use that everywhere!
Otherwise known as the ‘Speculative Script,’ this will showcase your Panther-like speed, agility and comedy prowess to a potential employer. To help distinguish yourself from everyone else that writes uber-funny stuff, make it as unfunny as possible and write on the first page ‘Should be funny’. That will make a memorable impression on anyone that might lay eyes on it and distinguish you as a truly unique, creative thinker.
Enjoy the process
Who cares if only your mother laughs at your jokes? There are bound to be enough mothers out there that will also enjoy your comedy styling enough to make Chicken a house-hold name. If you enjoy what you’re writing there’s bound to be other 35 year olds that live with their mother and will find your writing hilarious!
Are you a comedy writer or interested in starting your career as a professional funny man? Have you had so many doors slammed in your face that today you look like a balding over-weight pug that walks on its hind legs? Well let us know about your experiences in the comment section below (and once you post you can even add ‘published writer’ on your resume!)