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The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
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Old December 21st, 2006, 04:13 AM   #1
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What makes you laugh?

Hey everyone! I love to make short comedies and I wanted to ask one simple question:

What makes you laugh?

What type of comedy? (Ironic, physical injury, smart....etc)
Anything that helps me out in my theme-building and preproduction for some comedic shorts! I need inspiration, and I need the public's assistance! Thanks everyone, good luck on all current and future projects!
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Old December 21st, 2006, 11:10 AM   #2
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Pratfalls . . . a pie to the face . . .these things are, I think, always funny.
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Old December 21st, 2006, 11:23 AM   #3
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Im in the process of writing a short comedy myself so this thread will be useful to me too I guess. Its my graduation film.

The comedy in my short is mainly based around the supporting actor and his character. His the best friend of the protagonist and although he supports the main character with his aims, he also makes fun of him during his shortcomings.

Its mainly about how he does it. I think when I cast for this film, the actor I choose and whether he can carry the role will have great bearing on the success of the film as a comedy.

A bit like Vince Vaughn in 'Wedding Crashers'

Last edited by Simon Antoniou; December 21st, 2006 at 12:55 PM.
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Old December 21st, 2006, 12:35 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Rapadas
Hey everyone! I love to make short comedies and I wanted to ask one simple question:

What makes you laugh?

What type of comedy? (Ironic, physical injury, smart....etc)
Anything that helps me out in my theme-building and preproduction for some comedic shorts! I need inspiration, and I need the public's assistance! Thanks everyone, good luck on all current and future projects!
Interesting thread seeder! Got me thinking ... it's hard to say what I DO find funny but easier to say what I don't. I think the Tom Green style of hurtful stupidity is completely beyond the pale of civil behavior and not at all funny, comedy that embarrasses or holds people up to ridicule such as "Punked" is hitting below the belt, and comedy where the main character is funny because their naivette such as much of the humor in "I Love Lucy" is just plain embarrassing, sort of like laughing at cripples. OTOH, "Two and a Half Men" with the main characters wit - even insult - and rejoinder in what is actually a loving way to resolve conflict between themselves while coping with bizarre circumstances I find very funny and the wit in "Studio 60 on Sunset Strip" makes it one of the best - and funniest - shows on the 'tube this season IMHO.
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Old December 22nd, 2006, 12:31 AM   #5
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One problem these days is that media and comedy are so overly available, that audiences are jaded. People often have a "seen it all before" attitude.

That said, the best comedy is the comedy that you don't see coming. When the joke is totally unexpected, it can catch even the most jaded off guard.

The other thing that works consistently is infectious, honest laughter. Think of the times that the cast of the Carol Burnett show totally lost it and couldn't hold their characters. Those were the funniest skits bar none, and they hold up well some forty years later. You can use this by showing out-takes, and by showing onlookers busting up.

I figure it works because we are pack animals. Go to a silent theater and watch a great comedy. Only a true extrovert will crack up out loud. Now watch a so-so comedy in a theater packed with happy drunks. Just try not to have a belly laugh!

Once you've loosened up an audience, even dumb jokes can be funny.

"Guy walks into a bar with this big bottle of laughing gas..."
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Old December 22nd, 2006, 12:30 PM   #6
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I like comedy where the characters take everything in the universe seriously no matter how absurd the situation. For example, Shaun of the Dead, 40 Year Old Virgin, and Borat.

I don't like it when characters timidly and shyly cross the fourth wall. It's slightly amusing to see characters winking at the audience but to me it comes across as amateurish even in big budget movies.

But I do think crossing the fourth wall works when it's so blatant and obvious, that it becomes part of the universe. Woody Allen is a great example of this. I love the scene where he's standing in a movie line, arguing over an expert's opinion, and to solve the situation, he steps off frame and brings the expert into the movie to solve the debate. (I forget which move that is). Then there's the scene in Space Balls during the light saber/Schwartz duel where they keep smacking into and killing off some of the production crew. Or the South Park episode where it's a spoof on the World Of War Craft, and they have a whole conversation about how to move/pickup/transfer items between the South Park characters (first press the I key, click on your inventory button, make sure it's red, drag onto your character on the right side, then to enable it , damn it Cartman! Oh no they killed Kenny ... etc ... frickin' hilarious).

From my improv theatre classes, some of the funniest things I've ever seen occur when the actor allows the character to react truthfully instead of emotionally blocking the character. Or as one acting coach said, STOP STALLING! GO THERE! AND MAKE IT REAL!

One thing I learned as an improv actor, the best and funniest scenes are usually when I'm totally lost in the character and taking everything seriously, I can feel the audience breathing with me, and I have no idea what's going to happen next.

I do have one barometer for measuring my success on the comedy improv stage, if I step off stage and I have to ask someone what exactly happened on stage then I know I nailed it. If I know exactly what was going on (thinking instead of reacting) then I know I probably sucked.
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Old December 22nd, 2006, 08:57 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Rapadas
Hey everyone! I love to make short comedies and I wanted to ask one simple question:

What makes you laugh?

What type of comedy? (Ironic, physical injury, smart....etc)
Anything that helps me out in my theme-building and preproduction for some comedic shorts! I need inspiration, and I need the public's assistance! Thanks everyone, good luck on all current and future projects!
I believe Albert Brooks just did that film Finding comedy in a muslim world.

Plot Outline: To improve its relations with Muslim countries, the United States government sends comedian Albert Brooks to south Asia to write a report on what makes followers of Islam laugh.

link - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0433116/
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Old December 22nd, 2006, 09:16 PM   #8
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Some people are funny and others arent, no matter how well written a line or a joke may be. Some people have the right face, the right rythm, the right timing for comedy. Also, some words are funny, others are not. Some names are funny and others aren't. It's got to do either with the sound of the word or what images or issues that word brings to mind. For example Oklahoma is funny while Texas not so much(depending on the context, of course). Martin Lawrence is physically funnier(in movies, sitcoms) than Chris Rock, while the latter is more effective delivering a standup routine. Jim Carrey was able to make hilarious a ridiculously implausible character like Ace Ventura. Anything can be funny if the actor can make us believe it.
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Old December 22nd, 2006, 10:03 PM   #9
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I highly recommend the book "Writing Television Sitcoms" by Evan Smith. He talks some about the mechanics of humour, but talks a lot about premise-driven writing. The basically means that you set up situations with inherent tension... humour comes when you release it. Great book. I used Evan as a script consultant once also, and he was fabulous.

Good luck, and keep us in the loop.
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Old December 23rd, 2006, 02:37 AM   #10
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I personaly think that Fight Club is the funniest movie I've ever seen. Pulp Fiction is really good too, and Scarface. Dark comedy is the best its just really hard to pull off. The main thing is to NEVER let your character laugh at what they say.
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Old December 23rd, 2006, 02:55 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Alan James
The main thing is to NEVER let your character laugh at what they say.
Alan makes a good point there. When you get the impression that the character thinks he's being funny, then he ain't. Although Keenan Ivory Wayans can sometimes come up with great punch lines, I've never been able to laugh when those lines are delivered by the younger Wayans, Marlon and Shawn, 'cause I see in their faces that they think it's the funniest thing in the world. It just ruins it for me.
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Old December 23rd, 2006, 08:15 AM   #12
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Barry Sonnenfeld said the same thing about Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black. He said Jones kept wanting to play it funny, and he had to dial it back to the straightest possible. Boy that worked.
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Old December 23rd, 2006, 12:27 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Jaadgy Akanni
Alan makes a good point there. When you get the impression that the character thinks he's being funny, then he ain't.
Keep in mind the difference between somebody smirking because they think that they are funny, and somebody cracking up because the situation is funny.

Outtakes can be hilarious when people laugh, but the key is that the laughter must be honest and ego free. It's the actor laughing at the world around them.

Regarding ego, there's nothing worse than when the loudest laughter comes from the guy who just told a punchline. "Get it? get it?..."
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Old January 26th, 2007, 08:55 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Barry Gribble
Barry Sonnenfeld said the same thing about Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black. He said Jones kept wanting to play it funny, and he had to dial it back to the straightest possible. Boy that worked.
Amen. Leslie Neilson in Airplane, one of the funniest movies ever, played it as straight as he could. If he had gone around smirking and mugging, it never would have worked.
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Old January 26th, 2007, 08:58 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Larry Kamerman
Pratfalls . . . a pie to the face . . .these things are, I think, always funny.
I don't find those things funny unless it happens at the right moment to the right person for the right reason. With the exception of America's Funniest Home Videos, if someone gets a baseball bat to the crotch, there better be a good comic reason for it (and consquences) or it's just cruel.
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