• Joseph Morganti

Comedy Screenplay Writing: Pros and Cons

If you talk to anyone about their favorite genre of a film or television show, the vast majority of people will tell you about their enjoyment of comedies. Unlike something more niche like a historical piece, the mass populous tends to enjoy a comedy from time to time.


From a screenwriting perspective, there’s a lot of information attached to writing a screenplay, especially in the comedy world. However, if you can manage to pull off a successful comedy-based script, you’ll gain a lot of respect from the writing world.


Still, like anything else in the writing world, it’s a monumental task to achieve that most people have a hard time trying to do. If you can manage to pull it off, you’ll be on your way to the top in the screenplay world with enough luck.


If you’re confused about whether you should write a comedy screenplay, don’t overthink it. Sit back and understand that whatever you want to write is entirely based on what you hope to accomplish and do; no one else can tell you otherwise.


If you are hoping to go down the comedy screenplay route, understand the pros and cons attached to the matter. With this in mind, let’s a few of these critical pros and cons to help you get an understanding if this is the right direction for you or not.

Still from 'Step Brothers'. Photo credit: Slant Magazine


PROS


1. Wider Audience


The number one pro associated with writing a comedy screenplay is it tends to have a wider audience. Wider audiences are significant from a studio perspective since they want to sell their television series or film to as many people as possible.


Of course, it’s always ideal to have a target audience. Still, comedies tend to be associated with having a wide demographic. From a selling perspective, this is undoubtedly a good thing, so make sure you write the script with this in mind.


2. Good Jokes Can Overshadow an Okay Plot


Whenever you talk to a professional writer, they’ll tell you about the importance of a plot in a story. As accurate as this is, comedies sometimes don’t rely on the plot as much, as long as the plot is filled with great jokes.


Obviously, writing jokes is a monumental task in and of itself, but people won’t notice your plot holes as much if you can manage to do it. Don’t think of this as a free pass to do whatever you want with your story, but understand that jokes are just as crucial as the story itself, if not more critical.


3. Gain Respect from People in the Comedy World


Suppose there’s one element tied to comedy. In that case, it’s the amount of respect successful comedy writers gain from other people in comedy. Comics and writers alike have the utmost care for people who can successfully pull off a comedic script in a way that hasn’t been done before.


Of course, uniqueness is essential, but if you can do it and even sell it, you’ll be met with a never-ending slew of respect from others. You can potentially land a comedy writing job very quickly with a great script on top of this.


CONS

1. Hard to Write


From a con perspective, the primary negative makeup of writing a comedy script has to do with the difficulty associated with writing one. Writing jokes is hard enough, but putting it in a screenplay format is a task most people can’t accomplish.


Originality and unpredictability are the two most crucial elements to something being funny. If someone can guess where the joke is going, understand it’s in your best interest to change the story and jokes a bit.


2. May Overstep a Boundary


Some might not care if they overstep a boundary or risk upsetting others with jokes, but if this is the case with you, realize there’s a fine line you can walk before someone gets mad at you. Realize, this is quite common in the comedy world, and you’ll need to have thick skin.


Even though a few people will read your script initially, you never know what can happen afterward. In fact, someone who reads it might be so offended, they can try and blacklist through their connections. Basically, realize the risk you’re taking with whatever boundary you might cross.


3. Harder to Sell a Comedy Script Without a Comedy Background


Most people who are in the comedy script world tend to have a history in the world of comedy. For example, Judd Apatow began as a comedian until his film career took off, and it became his main focus.


If you don’t have at least some history involved in the stand-up comedy world, realize it’ll be more challenging for you to sell your comedy script than someone who already has a history. Don’t let this discourage you, but as another hurdle you’ll have to jump.