Monday, August 15, 2011

Writing comedy…

Friends used to be one of America's most favorite TV shows. Many people believed it was the funniest show on television. For us guys my first question is simple. Who is the hottest looking girl on the show? I think Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow is the best looking of the three. Monica Geller (Courteney Cox) has a very sexy face, but she's entirely too thin for me. Although many considered Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston) to be the hottie of the show, I only liked her hair.

As far as show characters, I enjoyed Phoebe the most. Although she could be ditzy at times she showed great insight catching you totally off guard. However, I related more with Monica because of her eccentricities. It's not that I'm a great cleaner around the house, but I can't be comfortable when there is a mess around the house. That will drive me crazy. The other thing I can relate with is her competitive spirit. I can't stand losing at anything. I'm a good sport about it, but I'm not happy thinking I lost. All three of the women are beautiful. Let's face it sex sells. Attractive characters are a must. Sexist? Totally.

Now let's talk comedy. Take a look at these clips from a writer's point of view. What makes the comedy truly funny, in my view, is the misunderstanding. The clips are very short.

In this scene all the Friends characters are discussing what they would do if they were omnipotent. When Joey walks in Monica asked him the same question.

Omnipotent/impotent - You have to put the character together with the misunderstanding. Joey's character is a cool guy, well built, and attractive to women. On the other hand, he is also ditzy, childish, womanizing, and although he's a warm and kind friend, he's not very smart. Not the kind of person you can have an intelligent conversation with. You see he has his strong points and his weaknesses. The writers capitalize on both points to make good comedy. My favorite part is, "You are? Ross, I'm sorry."

In this scene Rachel and Phoebe are in ugly naked guys apartment which Ross is thinking of renting. Looking through the window Phoebe sees Monica and Chandler having sex.

Phoebe demonstrates her devotion for the others in the group. She cares greatly for the environment, and she's fun to be with. She can contribute to a conversation, but at times she's totally lost. Remember strengths and weaknesses. Again, the misunderstanding of not knowing what was going on causes Phoebe to freak out. My favorite part is, "Oh, my eyes, my eyes."

To create good comedy take strong characters, expose their flaws, and add misunderstanding. It works every time. Tell me about your favorite episode, scene, person, and why.

And remember… Always stay in your write mind.


  1. I've never seen Friends. (close your mouth) I don't watch tv. I feel more productive with it off. I do love movies and have an extended DVD collection! About a year ago I really got into Criminal Minds, CSI, NCIS, House, and enjoyed watching them. Being in the "medical field" watching House was fun. I understood everything they talked about. It's been many, many months since I really watched something on tv. This was interesting and Friends looked funny. ~Ranae

  2. @Ranae: Well I've watch the same shows you have. We seem to have the same taste in TV shows. I'm not crazy about house, I prefer Bones and Grey's Anatomy. But I have to have some comedy before I go to bed. It just helps me sleep better.

  3. Interesting analysis, but it's not the misunderstanding that creates the humor.

    Here's my formula for humor, the one I made up myself. It's setup + surprise + sense = comedy.

    A set up leads to an expectation. In the first example, you expect Joey to say what he'd do if he were omnipotent.

    Instead he surprises you by saying he'd kill himself. His dialogue that follows (that basically says he'd have no reason to live if he couldn't have sex, thereby explaining that he thought the question was what would he do if he was impotent) makes sense of his surprising answer.

    And there you have the three ingredients of comedy: setup, surprise and sense.

    Yes, sometimes misunderstandings are an easy way to have a surprise that makes sense, but it's not at the root of all comedy.

    One of my favorite lines from a sitcom is from Reverend Jim on Taxi: "You know what the wonderful thing about television is? If anything important happens anywhere in the can always change the channel."

    No misunderstanding, just great wit. And very funny.

  4. @Shevi: I agree with you. I wanted to emphasize on the character and their weaknesses within the comedy. Thank you for your professional break-down of the comedy itself.

    Taxi is classic comedy and now you've brought back some fond memories. Thank you for that as well.

  5. Hi, Orlando. You're my blog spotlight link for the day! For the week, maybe, since it's been nearly two weeks since I did a spotlight link.

    One of my favorite moments in Friends might have been the farce-comedy episode when they were in Barbados, and switching from room to room with over the top melodrama. I have to say, I probably like Matthew Perry's comedy style best, though it's hard to pick one favorite character out of the ensemble.

    And I think Rachel was the hottest, though Monica had her moments.

  6. @Kelworthfiles: You caught me by surprise with your post. I truly appreciate you blogging about me. I am truly honored by that.

    I know the episode you're talking about. That is one of their funniest. You see, to many people she is the hottest. But there is just something about the way Monica's black hair come across a portion of her face that just... Yeah, well, they're all good.