Joke Writing Across Mediums
Click here to listen to an interview with Jonathan on the podcast On the Page with Pilar Alessandra, where he talks about concepts covered in the seminar.
Click here to read Jonathan Solomon's article "For Writers: The Importance of Being a Multi-Hyphenate"
As any writer knows, the type of joke that fits nicely into a stand-up set often makes for clunky dialogue when it’s included in a sitcom script. Similarly, sitcom dialogue sounds too obvious, not like real people talking, when placed in a screenplay. And, if you take the funny narrative device from your screenplay and try to fit it into a short story, the story will seem too formulaic. How do you take the comic gems you came up with for one project and transfer them successfully to another?
Joke Writing Across Mediums is designed for TV and screenwriters, comedians, bloggers, and writers of essays and stories (for publishing or performance), whose projects and careers span more than one medium. During the seminar, the diagraming of script excerpts, TV and film clips, stand up sets, blogs and New Yorker essays, will reveal four key points:
- Jokes fit into 8 basic constructions. This is true whether they appear in a stand up set, a TV or film script, an essay or story, or even a Tweet. Some examples are, exaggeration, comparison and taking things literally. Know all the constructions and you’ll have the fullest possible toolbox for writing funny.
- Some joke constructions do not “travel well” from one medium to another. As a result, they must be edited out when going from a stand up set to sitcom script, sitcom to film script, et cetera. For instance: A comparison joke from a sitcom script slows down dialogue too much to be included in a screenplay.
- Some joke constructions can go straight from one medium to another without alteration. For instance, “runners” from a sitcom script, build to even bigger laughs when placed in a screenplay.
- The majority of joke constructions can travel between mediums, but need to re-worked – if you want to keep the laugh, you must make the correct choices. For instance, what if you have a joke in a stand up set that is too long for sitcom dialogue? Save it by putting the premise in one character’s line of dialogue, dropping the set-up, and giving the punch line to a second character.
The seminar is interactive with each participant taking their turn – or not, if you are the shy sort – pitching jokes, comedy dialogue and comic prose. We’ll work your writing muscles. You’ll feel in in tip-top shape to take on any sort of writing project you have on your desk – or, two, three, or four, simultaneously!
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- Date available: 01/10/2012
- Publication date: 01/10/2012
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Meet the Author: Jonathan Leigh Solomon
Jonathan Leigh Solomon is a stand up comedian who has appeared regularly on the Late Show with David Letterman. He teaches comedy and humor writing as part of the faculty for the extension programs at Santa Monica College, East LA College and Mission College. He has guest lectured at UCLA Extension and NYU. His essays on comedy appear in the Huffington Post.