Techniques of Comedy
Alex Moreno Theater 208 Comedy: Techniques behind the Laughter Comedy is the genre of film that makes even the saddest times bearable and gained a lot of popularity in a time when people needed a boost. Comedy is a unique form of film in its wide range of methods, and in all of these methods there is at least some of a select group of approaches. The true magic that comedy has arises from these select few techniques, that, when used properly, will never fail to generate a laugh.
Comedy comes in a wide range of forms, all of which bring a laugh in different ways. There are however, a few specific categories of comedy which become classics. The most effective of these include; screwball, running gags, wit, set-up and punch line, and slap stick. While these are separate categories of comedy, they are very often used together or in other types, to successfully generate a laugh. The question is, what makes them work over and over, and the answer lies in common factors of each technique.
An important factor in comedy is the script and use of dialogue. While dialogue is not equally important in all types of comedy, it is still a very effective tool in producing a great comedy. The dialogue must tie in fast pacing, wit, and comedy in order to keep an audience entertained, all while following the script in order to draw the audience in to the film, and keep them hooked. Great comedies always have exceptional dialogue that can make even the most ordinary scene, absolutely hilarious.
When dialogue is used properly, it can be comedy in itself, or add to another joke. An example of this is when a main character makes a funny comment about the antagonist or another character. The actions of the other character may not be funny alone, but add some commentary and it becomes extremely funny. Overall, dialogue is not the main drive behind all comedic forms, as seen in silent films, but it is still important to modern comedy in its ability to make ordinary things funny. The next important factor of a successful comedy is the pacing.
Fast pacing is the only successful way of making a comedy; the audience must always have something to generate a laugh. Audiences are fickle, and making them wait for something to happen will only cause them to lose interest. The pace must be fast enough to keep people interested, but it must also be at a pace where the audience can keep up with the action. A comedy will not be funny if the next joke starts before the audience even laughs at the last one. A great comedy must find just the right balance that will not lose the audience to boredom, or in a rush.
Give the audience enough time to laugh, but don’t let them stop laughing. Another critical factor in generating a successful comedy is in the use of montage. Cutting shots between different angles helps to keep the audience interested by adding fresh perspective, the film must always be moving, and so must the camera. This is used in addition to close-ups and establishment shots during important sequences. A very effective method of doing this is switching shots between characters during important comedic sequences.
An example of this would be a main character meant to be funny talking to one of the stagnant characters, anti-comic relief, and showing their lack of reaction to something funny done by the main character. Another method is changing the camera angles while a character has difficulty performing a task. A character struggling to carry a box through a door is funny, but gets old unless you constantly montage in order to keep the scene fresh, adding to the pace. Montage is an important factor in successful comedy because a joke needs to stay fresh in order to be funny, as does a comedy.
The casting in a film is of the utmost importance, as not all people are funny in the same situations. Actors all have certain comedic roles, which they best fit into. A serious looking actor with a stern voice would not make a good goofball character. If that same actor is placed into the role of a gangster with the attitude of a child, he becomes a great comic figure. Casting is of the utmost importance as actors must fit their roles, while they have more range in comedy, they still must be believable to some degree.
This can be seen by the great number of comedies where people walk out saying; it would have been funny or funnier with someone else. Casting must be done carefully in order also insure that the characters play well against each other. While a grown man acting like a child is funny at times, it becomes extremely effective when there is another character provoking them to behave that way. In the end, casting determines how the audience will react to the story, and whether jokes will be funny when coming from the selected cast. In the end all of these things tie in to make a comedic film funny.
If the techniques are used properly you will create a high energy comedy that will keep the audience entertained. True classics have everything that a comedy could need, great dialogue, fast pacing, montage, and great casting. When these techniques are used together properly, a comedy cannot fail. The basic goal of a comedy is to stay fresh, and by utilizing these techniques, even the most played out scenario can become funny all over again. Comedy has made us laugh for nearly a century, and it will continue to so long as it is kept new, fresh, and exciting.