Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Humour Writing

So I'm reading this book called "The Laugh Crafters", about writing for comedy in the oldtime radio days and the early days of television. There's an interview with Bob Schiller, who wrote for Duffy's Tavern, Abbot & Costello, The Carol Burnett Show, The Flip Wilson Show, and All In The Family (among others).

Anyway, Schiller had a quote in there that I thought some of y'all out there might be interested in. He compares comedy writing for print vs comedy writing for performance:
There's a major difference, as you know, between writing to be read and writing to be said. Writing to be said, you have to have a strong enough--it's a technique--a punchline that's got enough muscle, that will arouse a laugh in an audience. You can't just do whimsy, the kind of stuff you do in columns. You have to have whamsy, really.

I like that distinction. Makes sense. For the written word, you can be more subtle, more clever, let the individual reader soak in the humour. Whereas for audible or visual humour, you need to have more energy, more punch, more yuks. Something to think about.

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