What is comedy?

To discover what comedy is really all about I challenge you to watch an assortment of Youtube comedy clips that you can get your hands on quite easily via the internet here:

http://www.youtube.com/

After bringing the Youtube link up just type into the white box the name of a comedy you fancy watching and see if you can find it by pressing the enter key and then scrolling down the page.

Once you have found a comedy that you like then just sit back, relax and watch it by clicking on the clips name on the screen.  Don’t forget to make some notes on why you liked it and why you didn’t.

We completed the same exercise this week in class and the experience I gained was truly amazing and a huge insight into the world of comedy.

By just watching a handful of clips in maybe a period of just a few minutes the class and I came up with the following ideas of what comedy means to us:

comedy spider

To further experience the idea of comedy for ourselves we were asked by our tutor to split up into small groups of three or four people.

We were each to write down three tasks that we did in the day and use some of this ordinary information and fill it with the extraordinary to produce a comedy sketch in just 15 minutes.

My three ordinary tasks were that I fed the cat; drove the car and spoke on the telephone that day.  My other group members’ tasks were just as ordinary and some were very similar indeed.

So in just those few minutes we came up with this quick comedy sketch scenario:

A man is outside on his driveway trying to clean the snow off his car.  His mobile telephone rings and as he answers it he accidentally drops and loses his car and house keys in the snow.  He is both locked out of his car and his house.  There is nobody on the end of the telephone, it was a wrong number, they hung up.

His cat comes along and accidentally picks up the keys on her magnetic collar and promptly disappears round the back of the house and enters in the house through the cat flap without the man knowing.

Just as the man realises his keys aren’t where he thought they were and are missing his mobile rings again.  It’s his wife asking him to go inside the kitchen and collect her paying-in book and a cheque that she left on the kitchen table.  The cheque needs to be paid in that day.  As the man looks up whilst still talking on the telephone he sees the cat sat in the front room window washing itself with the bunch of­­­­­­­­­­ keys hanging around its neck.

The man says goodbye to his wife hastily, he really needs to go and get his keys and go to the bathroom at this point too.  Just as he walks over toward the front room window to discuss the matter with his cat he accidentally slips on the snow and ice.  At the moment he’s picking himself up off the floor another person rings his mobile and asks him if he wants to make a claim on past mis-sold Personal Protection Insurance (PPI).  He didn’t even buy any Personal Protection Insurance.

At this point the man is near to breaking point and puts the phone down on the PPI caller.  Then the phone rings yet ­again and the man thinks that the caller is the PPI person calling again.  Without thinking he swears down the telephone at the caller, but in fact it was his wife again checking up on him to make sure that he’d found the paying-in book and cheque.  At this point in time the cat still hasn’t moved off the front room window ledge and the man is totally exasperated and is no further forward.

I can see the humour in this sketch and given the right delivery it would be hilarious.  It goes to prove a point that comedy in groups and having methodology to your ideas is much easier than writing it alone with no method to follow to tease out the comedy sketch.

Other important points we gained from watching the Youtube clips were as follows:

  • A persons’ accent can add to the comedy.
  • If a comedian can make people visualise a scene then this will add to the overall delivery.
  • Silly noises; funny looks; tone of voice; stressing syllables on words; repeating silly words; using silly names and content can all add to the enjoyment of comedy scenes.
  • The style of delivery is important whether it be in the form of an interview; intimate conversation; a double act or talking over each other can all add to the stress and mayhem of humour.  90% of the delivery is put across by the actor, comedy is not as funny when written down on paper.
  • Mixing serious comments with silly ones all help.
  • Poking fun at a person’s profession is funny.
  • Pauses in comedy are your friend and not your enemy.
  • Giving the audience a role and including them in the humour is fun.
  • Some comedy performers are not afraid to give a bit more to their performances because of their dispositions.
  • Silly scenarios, exaggerated descriptions and actions are funny.
  • Having a character speak out aloud their thoughts can be hilarious.
  • The element of surprising the audience with surprising actions can be a winner.
  • Having different viewpoints; using technical language; expecting the unexpected; having characters with strong varied personalities and applying logic to ordinary situations to make them more complicated than what they really are can be really entertaining.
  • A technical person in their right surroundings is not comical but put them in a situation that they are not used to and they would be like fish out of water and fantastically amusing in the right scenario.
  • Many sitcoms are filmed in front of live audiences where the comic writers sleep in a room and work together.  They display their work in progress in front of a live audience.  If the audience do not like their sketches then the comedy writers will come back out again after making any necessary changes and retest their work until the audience do like it. Quite often there is usually one joke followed by an even bigger joke and this pattern follows like this all the way through the sketch to keep the audience entertained.  Every entrance and exit to a sketch has to have a laugh.
  • One comedian playing out a sketch alone with two or three characters in different voices and physical comical actions is really funny.
  • Drawing on experiences and imitating people that the audience already are familiar with is another favourite amongst comedians.

I managed to find ‘The British Comedy Guide’ website.  I’d love for you to go to and check it out if you haven’t done so already.  It will show you what British comedy is all about:

http://www.comedy.co.uk/make_it/

I hope that you have found this article useful, please feel free to comment and share.

Thank you,

Lee.   🙂

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