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We are a group of friends/parents that run a not-for-profit cultural association in Spain.
This is our (bilingual!) blog about our theatre workshops for kids...

martes, 4 de diciembre de 2012

How to be funny (ha ha - not odd!)

OK. I'd love to do a farce with my adult group. So, here's what I've gleaned so far from my research into How To Be Funny:
  • the comedy comes from the characters/situations (not from jokes in themselves)
  • and is based on real life situations we can relate to (as an audience)
Apparently, we laugh at:
  • the unexpected
  • embarrassing stuff (but only if it's some else)
  • insults (ditto)
  • repetition (of actions or catch phrases, running gags in other words)
And obviously timing is everything. The pace of the play needs to be fast and furious (never let up, let the comic tension build). And the same is true of the comic situations and running gags we develop - these are far more effective when we build them up in stages.
Also, if we're writing for amateurs, we can write for our actors and focus on emotions that are easy to relate to and portray (like anger, frustration...).

I've been revisiting "Fawlty Towers" recently in search of inspiration. The comedy is very carefully built up to maximise dramatic (comic) tension: one dead body would be bad enough but Basil finds himself with two inert bodies on his hands when he slaps an hysterical guest and knocks her out. And Manuel's infamous catch phrase "I know nooooothing" is a fine example of a running gag that is built up and up until it's climax: Basil spends an entire, frustrating episode teaching Manuel to say nothing about the-money-he-won-on-a-horse, only to have him finally understand ...just when Basil needs him to speak out.

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