Not All Comedy Films Are Equal


Comedy is one of the hardest screenplay genres for screenwriters to master. This is because comedy movies are so broad, so personal and so nuanced.  The writing style ranges from jokes so subliminal they barely register with the audience, to laugh out loud slapstick humor.

Writing comedy movie and TV scripts is serious business, so let’s explore some comedy categories I may not have written about in the past.

1) ACTION COMEDY

These hybrid films are buddy action films with comedic moments. The main characters and their woefully mismatched sidekicks have to solve a crime or complete a mission amid constant arguing. Such movies include Ride Along and Hot Pursuit.

2) BLACK/ DARK COMEDY

These films focus on deeply disturbing and morose themes with a dark spin on them. This style of comedy is sometimes called Gallows Humor. Their aim is not to mock serious subject matter, but rather to draw attention to it through inappropriate comedic interludes. Fargo is a good example.

3) BROMANCE/ SISMANCE

These comedy films are usually spinoffs of buddy movies. As the genre name suggests, bromance films are stories about two best male friends; bros if you will. The Wedding Ringer and Superbad are typical examples. The female counterpart to bromance movies is appropriately called sismance. Go sister!

4) DEADPAN

This type of humor is dry, matter-of-fact and even-keeled. Deadpan comedy relies more on a bland, monotonic execution than the actual content. It’s often observational comedy exploring relationships in absurdly irrational detail. The Coen brothers master this style in screenplays like The Big Lebowski.

5) FARCE/ SCREWBALL

These styles of comedy center around improbable, impossible and often, ridiculous situations. Screwball comedies are more ‘kooky’ and likely, whereas farcical films are more off the wall. Movies like Stepbrothers typify screwball, while Something About Mary might be a farce. It’s also worth noting that farcical films have sub-categories such as bedroom farce, cop farce and military farce. More laughs than your funny bone can handle.

6) FEMALECENTRIC

These are not so much feminist films, but rather films about women, friendship and sisterhood. They often portray women becoming empowered and taking control of their lives. Movies such as Bridesmaids and Trainwreck are good examples.

7) GROSS OUT/ POTTY

We’ve all seen these types of comedies which are designed to shock and offend. They can be aimed at teenagers or ‘adults’. The content is often full of fart jokes, scatological or urological (google these terms) quips and overtly sexual in nature. Teen movies like American Pie and its sequels are good examples of these types of comedies.

8) PHYSICAL/ SLAPSTICK

As its name suggests, this style of comedy screenplay relies on stunts, pranks and comical action to engage its audience. It’s often goofy, silly and childish in its simplicity. Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton exemplified the genre. Comedy greats like Jim Carrey do great physical comedy in movies like Liar, Liar.

9) RAUNCHY/ SEX

I’m sure we can all guess what this category is all about. Click away if you’re under eighteen. It ranges from suggestive to sauce to crude and rude. There may even be profanity involved. The Ted movie franchise is an exemplar of this kind of comedy.

10) TOPICAL

This relates to a specific community and relies on in jokes to get the comedy across. Films about the film industry, a specific sport, race or subculture demonstrate topical humor.

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