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Lecture 6: Negotiating Story and Laughs. Professor Daniel Cutrara. Very Bad Things (1998) Written by Peter Berg . Previous Lesson. Unity and Variety Pacing,Rhythm,Tempo Time Lock. This Lesson. The Problem of Comedy Subgenres Negotiating Laughs Assignments. The Problem of Comedy.

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lecture 6 negotiating story and laughs
Lecture 6:Negotiating Story and Laughs

Professor Daniel Cutrara

Very Bad Things (1998)

Written by Peter Berg

previous lesson
Previous Lesson

Unity and Variety

Pacing,Rhythm,Tempo

Time Lock

this lesson
This Lesson

The Problem of Comedy

Subgenres

Negotiating Laughs

Assignments

the problem of comedy
The Problem of Comedy

“Comedy writers often feel that in their wild world the principles that guide the dramatist don’t apply. But whether coolly satiric or madly farcical, comedy is simply another form of storytelling.”

-- Robert McKee

Lesson 6: Part I

comedy
Comedy
  • According to McKee: Comedy critiques society.
  • Comedy is pure. If the audience laughs it works. If it doesn’t laugh, it doesn’t work.
  • Comedy follows the rules of storytelling with only a few exceptions.
comic design and plot
Comic Design and Plot
  • According to McKee: Comedy has the luxury of stopping the narrative drive for the sake of a comic bit or scene.
    • Fargo- when the police chief visits her old high school friend.

According to Mckee:

6

comic design and coincidence
Comic Design and Coincidence
  • According to McKee: Comedy can afford more coincidence than drama, and may even allow a deus ex machina ending… if two things are done: First, the audience is made to feel that the comic protagonist has suffered enormously. Second that he never despairs, never loses hope. Under these circumstances the audience may feel, “oh hell, give it to him.”
    • Charlie Chaplin in The Gold Rush

7

comic design and structure
Comic Design and Structure
  • Comedy is the most structured genre.
  • Every gag needs built whether slapstick or dialogue.
  • The director and actors must know when the audience is going to laugh, and give time for it.

8

comedy subgenres
Comedy Subgenres

Lesson 6: Part II

9

subgenres
Subgenres

Satire

Romantic Comedy

Sitcom, Comedy of Manners

Black Comedy

Screwball Comedy

Farce

Parody

10

satire
Satire

“ A literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn.” – Merriam Webster Online

“If they trivialize the exalted, pull the trousers down on snobbery, if they expose society for its tyranny, folly, and greed, and get people to laugh, then maybe things will change.” - Robert McKee

11

romantic comedy
Romantic Comedy
  • According to McKee: Romantic Comedy satirizes the institution of courtship.
    • The Lady Eve
    • When Harry Met Sally
    • Knocked Up

12

sitcom comedy of manners
Sitcom/Comedy of Manners
  • According to McKee: Sitcom is a satire of middle class behavior or special groups within:
    • Reno 911 - The Police
    • The Big Bang Theory - The “nerd”
  • In film, director Whit Stillman takes on the preppie crowd in Metropolitan and Barcelona.

13

black comedy
Black Comedy
  • Treats serious events or topics with satire.
    • Dr. Strangelove: or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb
      • Critiques nuclear war and the military

14

screwball comedy
Screwball Comedy
  • Includes elements such as mistaken identities, a romantic storyline, and slapstick.
  • Its classic period was in the 1940s.
    • It Happened One Night
    • His Girl Friday
    • Bringing up Baby

15

farce
Farce
  • Also referred to as broad comedy. Includes unlikely, improbable elements that are over the top.
    • The Producers
    • Bowfinger
    • The Forty Year Old Virgin

16

parody
Parody
  • A literary or musical work in which the style of an author or work is closely imitated for comic effect or in ridicule.” – Merriam Webster Dictionary
    • Austin Powers (and sequels)
    • Naked Gun (and sequels)
    • Galaxy Quest

17

mixing subgenres
Mixing SubGenres
  • Comedy genres can be mixed to create new forms.
  • Romantic Comedy mixed with Broad Comedy
    • There’s Something About Mary
    • The Wedding Crashers

18

negotiating laughs
Negotiating Laughs

Lesson 6: Part III

The Wedding Crashers (2005)

Written by Steve Faber

and Bob Fisher

19

the wedding crasher
The Wedding Crasher
  • Pause the lecture and watch the first clip from the Wedding Crashers.
  • Look at the various ways that comedy is created in this scene.
  • Can you find examples of slapstick, caricatures, and situation comedy?

20

meeting the guru
Meeting the Guru
  • Pause the lecture and watch the second clip from the Wedding Crashers.
  • Look at the various ways that comedy is created in this scene.
  • How does the scene twist our expectations?

21

poaching funerals
Poaching Funerals
  • Pause the lecture and watch the third clip from the Wedding Crashers.
  • As the comedy grows darker, notice how sympathy is maintained for the protagonist.
  • The shift into a darker comedy is used to create a turning point for the protagonist.

22

summary
Summary

Comedy is both more flexible than other genres and more structured.

There are many different sub genres of comedy, yet they all critique human society.

Writers make choices about how dark their story goes and how to create sympathy for their protagonist.

assignments
Assignments

The Wedding Crashers (2005)

Written by Steve Faber

and Bob Fisher

Lesson 6: Part IV

e board
E-Board

No E-Board

Instead of an eboard posting this week, your Script Analysis is due.

25

end of lecture 6
End of Lecture 6

Next Lecture: Rules of Engagement

The Wedding Crashers (2005)

Written by Steve Faber

and Bob Fisher