The Transparency of Comedy

26Aug06

I’ve been enjoying Jane Espenson’s blog since discovering it about two weeks ago. Jane in Progress offers tips on how to write spec scripts and also dives into the finer points of writing comedy. Today’s post explores the relationship of comedy and transparency.

This is very possibly good advice for life in general, but what he
meant was that situations are rendered comically complex by all things
that can happen to obscure the clear communication of information.

Kinda striking, isn’t it? Misunderstandings — Jack thinks Crissy’s pregnant!
Deceptions – Lucy puts on a costume to sneak onstage! Someone is stupid
and someone is lying. In fact, you’ll find examples in just about any
comedy you care to think of. M*A*S*H? Frank Burns is stupid and Hawkeye
is lying. Of course, stupidity and deception come in interesting and
complex flavors. Self-delusion and pomposity is a sophisticated kind of
stupidity. Crafty creativity is a fun sort of lying. Play around, in
other words, with ways to keep information away from those who need it.

[…]

Interestingly, this suggests that clear communication is the enemy of comedy.

It’s not that surprising is it? Most drama in our own lives comes from witholding information we’re too embarrassed or cautious to reveal.

Recently I’ve been experimenting on a new play where’s there’s no obfuscation of facts or identity, just characters with obviously competing interests. I don’t know how it’s going to turn out. I’d like to achieve the same magic of straightforwardness that’s captured in this comic by Jeffrey Rowland, but I don’t know if that’s possible. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Advertisements


No Responses Yet to “The Transparency of Comedy”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: