Monday, January 12, 2015

SiWC 2014 Workshop #3 Less Theory, More Funny

Less Theory, More Funny
Dan Bar-el

Write two things about yourself, each in a sentence
The first thing is true but boring, the second thing is a lie, but an outrageous lie

Now take the true and boring thing and turn it into an outrageous lie.

Three reasons why we laugh (unprovoked)

Something is funny (the brain is reacting)
Something is awkward/uncomfortable/nervous/surprised (emotional reasons)
To release tension (when we’re tickled - physical)

Comedy Rule #1

Comedy = expectations not met (when we meet someone, we expect to shake hands, not throw cream pies in their face, or yell, etc)

‘He’s so boring that…’ ‘boring’ and ‘so’ are telling you where the joke is going
web/brainstorm - what does ‘boring’ make you think of, and ‘so’ pushes you to exaggerate, but there still has to be logic:
people bring a pillow when they visit
sharks fall askeep
people yawned big enough to swallow their own face - too weird/illogical
he not only like to watch paint dry, he tapes it so he can watch it again


My town is so small that…

compile the data: what do you find in a small town? gas station -> gas pump -> car wash, police -> station -> jail, traffic lights, library, pets, etc and where does it lead you?

…that the car wash is a tooth brush (both scrub/clean, but one is insanely small)

…there’s no room to park cars (not good)

… the local bank only carries small change (not great, could be better to say, ‘my town’s bank is a piggy bank)

…the sheriff’s deputy is his dog

…the police are also the criminals
…the one room school house is a school apartment

More exercises:

The ants at the picnic were so hungry they ate…
my mom in law’s potato salad, the uncles
They boy’s parent’s were so cheap for his weekly allowance they gave him… (no currency)
a paper route, get out of jail free card, tax tips
My mother was such a hypochondriac that…
she died of embarrassment, she went everywhere in a space suit, she married the immunologist
The guy smelled so horrible that…
my nostrils went on strike, his deodorant crawled back in the tube
The dentist’s e equipment was so bad that to remove a tooth, she used a…
a seance, a tootsie pop

Joke construction:

The real crux of the joke is at the very end of the sentence - anything after it is meaningless.

Why webbing/brainstorming?

Lateral thinking.

Humans are very linear. Because we see our lives like that, we think like that ‘we do this, then this, then this, then this…’

Comedy is about making sideways connections

Posters from Play Land show stuffed animals barfing stuffing. (Fair, games, prizes, stuffed animals. rides, fast rides, dizzy, barf)

How do you create a connection between a cylinder and a cylinder with a triangle on top? (looks like a dunce cap - what did you do to piss off the teacher?)

S S S I (snakes, the last one is scared stiff, the last one is doing yoga)

o 8 (building a snowman, snowman with his head knocked off, zero saying, where’d you get the belt?)

^ ^ ^ v (look what I can do, pyramids? - blueprints upside-down, mountains?)

You can play up a comedic description by comparing them to someone/thing else you wouldn’t expect, like comparing a child running to play to Genghis Khan. He looked just like Georg Clooney if he’d overstayed in a tanning bed for 3 days and then fallen face first into a fire.


We know comedy = expectations not met
image of Shirley Temple, image of crazy looking bearded guy

 - write a short diary entry from one of their perspectives, but reverse the ‘personalities’ you expect based on their images

Instead of webbing, you can brainstorm with a category system:
people, place, thing, even, slogan/expression

example, fireman on a birthday card - only you can prevent cake fires

Comedy exists in a reality similar to ours, but not really,

Why did the chicken cross the road? In reality, it’s going on instinct, in comedy, it’s made a mindful decision

Book called ‘The Nose from Jupiter’. In reality, lonely boy dealing with divorced parents. Comic reality, there’s a tiny alien that lives in his nose.

You go to school - all teachers are monkeys
Mom takes kid to the mall - to buy a machine gun
President gives a speech - using only fart noises


Write down 5 Real Reality events (incorporate a verb into your sentence)

Bring each Real Reality event into a Comic Reality

A girl goes to a martial arts school…
A family sits down for Thanksgiving dinner…
A city is snowed under by a big storm…
A country has just been attacked…
Scientists discovered a cure for baldness… in a world inhabited with dogs. Hairless chihuahuas rejoice
Your soccer team plays another team…
The police chase a criminal…
A man does yoga…
Your child brings home an art project… Art came along to get it back and brought Geography with him
A pilot flies an airplane…

Four Elements of a Comic Character - handout

Comedic perspective: drunk, optimist (excited to get arrested), paranoid (suspects his pets of being spies), klutzy, loser, romantic, crybaby (adult literally has a tantrum when he doesn’t get a raise), hoarder (used kleenexes, a warehouse full of twist ties), con artist, fearful (jumps at her own shadow and screams)

Flaws: absentminded, arrogant, blunt, bigot, 

Flaw works against their character trait - like a bully who is only 3’ tall or really skinny.

example: comic perspective - fearful, exaggeration -  jumps at her own shadow, flaw - she’s nosey (which will lead her into fearful situations)

then add humanity (make relatable)

WALL-E comedic perspective - romantic/innocent, exaggeration - collects useless stuff as treasures, flaws - simple robot limited by his own technology, humanity - has developed emotions and falls in love.

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Type me out a line of Shakespeare or a line of nonsense. Dumb-blonde-jokes & Irish jokes will make me laugh myself silly :)