There are only two things in life that are certain: death and taxes. Benjamin Franklin forgot the third thing that unites us all unless you are, of course, devoid of a humerus bone (clearly I’m not), and that’s comedy.
I enjoy writing comedy, often merging elements of real-life experience with fiction.
Some years ago, I wrote a play called Dirty Laundry, which was put on at Putney Arts Theatre. It was inspired by my stint as a lodger in leafy Chiswick, west London, with Crazy Yank and his two kids, who all confided in me and also had to walk through my bedroom to do their laundry (see what I did there?)
The power of three. A well-worn writing device that does wonders for comedy (it’s all in the repetition).
SURPRISE! The opposite is boring.
Something else you might not have considered is the use of punctuation within comedy. Take a maraca; the way it’s shaken can make or break the drama and humour of a scene.
Timing, as we know, is everything. Too early or too late, and you lose your audience.
But even with the right tools, a joke won’t always land. Besides, a lot of comedy doesn’t even involve jokes. Misch uses Sarah Silverman, who is personality-led, and Jack Manning, who was known for saying things in a funny way, as examples.
It was interesting to dissect comedy as if under a microscope, finding different ways to look at it all.
We covered a lot of meaty comedic terrain. Reactions, the relationship between comedy and logic, comedy versus drama, the foreign body, nudity, pain and farts. Patterns, brain flips, deception, stereotypes, physical comedy, comedy versus horror, sudden shifting perspectives, fun fake deaths, comic fear, satire and taboos.
But the biggest takeaway of all? Misch’s identified pattern for comedy: Disruption, misdirection, attention to resolution and surprise. So smart a recipe for comedic success that not even Benjamin Franklin could doubt it.