Thursday, 11 July 2013

Show me the Funny

Funny isn’t a binary thing. You sometimes hear people say “well, it’s either funny or it’s not”.  Fact is, of course, “funny” is dependent on so many things, we have to accept it’s a greyscale.

So when people ask “is it funny?”, I reply, “Compared to What?”. 

OR - "I don't know. What do you find funny?"

The work we do is funny, but (thanks to a few nervous HR people) it has to be work-safe, which often rules out many of the things that make popular TV utterly hilarious.  We cannot shock too badly for comedy purposes, so we have to concentrate on the ridiculousness of the human condition.  This takes a bit of screen time to set up, and not all clients appreciate this. However, if we get the audience to engage emotionally in a story, we have more power to tap into the funny later on.  If we know the characters a little, we care that little bit more.

We identify.

So – it’s a tightrope walk. But after years of walking that line, we are in a good position to track where it’s moving – and I am glad to say that comedy boundaries are relaxing somewhat.  There are still some horror stories, but we reckon those are due to engageing with the wroing talent. Not every video producer can create comedy – hell – even the best comedians have off days.

This is when it pays to be specific.  If you want Rom Com – don’t go to StanleyKubrick. You want Richard Curtis.

For comedy in a working environment – look for those whose reputations live on that tightrope. So you get the huge benefits of effective engagement using “real” comedy, and very little of the risk of pitching it badly.

If you're very lucky - you'll get a combination of great writing, a fantastic production team, and talent like this...

(NB - this was entirely improvised based on the random props we pasted on this characters office wall).

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