Thursday, November 3, 2016

MassMedia: Entertainment: How to Write a Joke (W11-P4) Fa16

“A good joke idea is raw potential and can be used in an almost unlimited number of contexts” (Sankey). Jokes can be used in stand-up comedy, commercials, cartoons, radio shows, a humor column in a newspaper/blog, TV sitcoms, etc. Jokes are the heart of comedy writing.

What is a joke?
  • A funny story.
  • Typically has two parts, the setup and then the punchline.
  • May have an additional part, a tag, which is an additional funny line that follows the punchline.

The Setup:
  • Sometimes called a premise.
  • “A set-up is the information the comic gives to the crowd to establish an initial subject, context and perspective.”
  • Compare this to the Setup in a 3 act film.
  • Henny Youngman’s old joke
    • The setup: “Women are crazy today.”

The Punchline:
  • “the final information the comic gives to the crowd; it alters the meaning of already given information in a surprising fashion.”
  • Compare punchlines to plot points.
  • Henny Youngman’s old joke
    • The punchline: “Take my wife………please”

Do you spot the setups and punchlines in the following Bud Light commercials? Spot the tags in some? Don't need to watch them all, just a few will do.  Watch responsibly.

Bud Light commercials deserve some ideological criticism?

Now, let's take a look at the joke structure in a situation comedy.  Just check out the first minute or so. How many jokes in the first minute?  Wonder how many jokes in a typical sitcom?  Could you write for a sitcom? Can you write a joke?

What do your recall about the show?  What was it about?  Who were some of the key characters?
Now, let's take a look at scene from one of the episodes and look specifically at the series of set-ups and punchlines in this comedy.

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