The Road to Nower Part 6: Giggles Gone Wrong
From Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip:
Harriet: I got a laugh at the table read when I asked for the butter in the dinner sketch. I didn’t get it at the dress. What did I do wrong?
Matt: You asked for the laugh.
Harriet: What did I do at the table read?
Matt: You asked for the butter.
In my last update on Nower, I explained the first of two approaches that Joel and I took that guarantees our failure – making it a three camera sit-com. The second is our comedy style.
Our script generates the required three laughs a page, but they are apparently the wrong kind of laughs.
As one television veteran explained in critiquing our script: “Too many of your laughs come from the story and from character. Sit-coms today have a set formula – setup, punchline; setup, punchline; setup, punchline. Your script is too much like theater. In theater, the jokes serve the story. In television, the story and characters serve the joke.”
Of course he is right – that is the way most sitcoms are structured.
But that is also what Joel and I agreed was why most sitcoms don’t feel funny – despite the jokes. They aren’t about character or story, they aren’t places that one wants to spend time, they aren’t compelling.
Seems we aren’t the only ones to think so. The October 6th Entertainment Weekly included an article called “TV Comedy Is Broken” – a collection of interviews with a television producer, writer and actors.
An anonymous actress summed up the problem thusly, “I’ve seen sitcoms…rely on very empty jokes that were not character-related or plot-related in terms of telling a story about something real.”
The writer said, “As for multi-camera comedies, the networks seem to care less about story, character and content and more about style.”
So Joel and I made a point to do funny that came from plot and character.
It’s working against us; but I think we can live with that.
Just my thoughts,