Comedy Writing – Quick and Simple

Want a great quick way to get to writing some solid comedy material?

Think in opposites! That’s right opposites.

Think of putting yourself in any situation or scenario. Write down what your normally anticipated behavior or reaction might be in that scenario, then write down the opposite of that.

If opposites are unexpected and surprise creates laughter. This theory has a high likelihood of leading you to some quick comedy.

Remember, of course that comedy is always subjective and it might not. But that’s why there are second, third and fourth drafts of material; you tweak it until you get it right.

So let’s look at 3 scenarios, the expected reactions then the opposite of that and see if we can create some comedy.

Scenario #1:

A cop pulls you over and says, “Do you know how fast you were going?”
Expected Reaction: “No sir.”
Opposite of that: “Dude, really? You think at that speed I’m gonna risk taking my eyes off the road to check the speedometer?”

Scenario #2:

Minister says, “Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife ’til death do you part?”
Expected Reaction: “I do.”
Opposite: “Wait a second. Did you say, ’til death’?”

Scenario #3:

Your girlfriend says, “Does this dress make me look fat?”
Expected Reaction: “No!”
Opposite: “Babe, I think it’s time to stop blaming the clothes.”

Was the opposite of what was supposed to be said funny? That’s always up for interpretation, but I bet using this easy technique, you will wind up with funny more often than not.

Now you try it.

  1. Write down at least 5 scenarios. Make sure you’re not thinking of “funny” scenarios. Just think of everyday situations.
  2. The quickest way to do it is to create a scenario where there is conversation.
  3. Find the expected response.
  4. Write down the opposite of that. Keep it simple.
  5. Once you have the opposite. Think of a way to say it that is not “on the nose,” but paints an interesting picture.

Oh yeah, and I almost forgot to say that it is important that you write these things down. It’s never really enough to just think about them. So really give this a shot. Start with the three scenarios I gave you, using your own opposites.

Remember to put your jokes in the comment box below. It’ll be like a comedy brainstorm session in cyberspace!

Comedy Class | Getting Your Time Cut


flappersWe had our combined showcase this Thursday at Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank, for our Beginning/Advanced comedy class.

The bill was filled with 18 comedians ready to hit the stage to showcase. That’s a lot of comedians for one show, but to top it off we had to complete the show in a timely manner, because we had to clear the mainroom to let it get set for the late show.

Talk about pressure! Mix in with that the fact that I had a baby-sitter fall through and had to miss the show and you’ve got a tough beginning to an evening that had its obstacles.

Then the comedians, many of them doing a showcase for the very first time arrived to the club to discover that their time had been cut back from seven minutes to six. It can be stressful for a comedian to have to suddenly cut their time, especially for a newbie.

But the show went on and as I hear it (I can’t wait to get the video), and the show was great. Everyone did their best and had good sets. The show ended on time–for the most part… and, despite the stress of time-cuts, nobody died from a brain aneurism or anything like that.

Getting your time cut is commonplace in this business. I have a friend, Don Richardson, a professional comedian for 25 years, a regular at the Comedy Store. Don’s a real pro with real world experience who possesses a very good reputation…

One night he showed up at the Comedy Store for his scheduled 10pm set. As Don arrived at the Comedy Store he checked the list and there were 8 comedians that still needed to go on.  Just then, Andrew Dice Clay took the stage in the Original Room in a surprise appearance. Dice decided to do an hour and a half. By the time Dice finished, it was 11 o’clock and with the 8 comics still remaining.

Don knew he probably wasn’t going to get on that night.

I asked him how he felt about that. He said, “In this business, these things happen. You’ve got to learned to roll with the punches., It could be worse. I could be punching a clock. 

So there’s a great lesson to be learned here. That lesson is this: from the best laid scenarios to the worst planned events, comedians have to learn to be able to adjust to the show. A comedian is a rare person. They not only can make an audience of strangers laugh, they can do it under circumstances that are not always ideal.

We learn as comedians to take these things in stride. For some of you this may the first time something like this happened, but I assure you that if you continue in the comedy business it won’t be the last. Having your time cut short is a common thing to deal with in this business called show business. It’s so common, it becomes part of your craft.

You might be a solo act on stage as a comedian or a duo, or whatever, but in the total scheme you’ve got to be a utility man, you’ve got to be the guy or guys (and I say that not to leave out girls, but because of language limitation), who can roll with the punches and rise to the occasion under any circumstances.

On one hand as a comedy student, you prepared for a seven minute act. On the other hand you learned an advanced lesson and you’ve had real-world comedy experience, just like Don Richardson.

Have you encountered a similar situation? Or have a war story? Share it!