Great Comedy Scripts Can Take
Ventriloquism To The Next Level.
I received an email from one of the members of the Learn-Ventriloquism Course:
I’m trying to write for what I believe could be a strong character in my show. However, I’m not sure what process to follow. I have some ideas but am not sure how to turn them into comedic bits. I’ve also seen there are comedy writers for hire, but I know it’s a gamble. What is your process when you write for a character and how do you maintain the flow of all the ideas you have for a character when you write?
Anything you have helps, thank you for your time.
Great Question Landon!
Before you can write comedy, you need to understand who you are writing for:
The first thing I do is create a character profile.
It doesn’t have to be too in-depth, but it should give you a strong idea of who the character is. It can be as simple as putting on the puppet and talking with it, asking it questions.
Once you know who the character is and about their background, you will know what it will and won’t do.
Then nail their voice. You want to be able to hear that voice in your head as you write.
Now you can start to think like the character.
Flow Of Ideas:
For the flow of ideas, I have a notebook and write down situations and thoughts that the character could encounter. These are just brief a synopsis to use as launching points.
Think of them as television program descriptions. What will happen to the character in that episode?
The more you can visualize the plot, the easier it becomes to create.
Think of this period as a brain dump. You may not use everything, but write every possible combination down so you don’t lose it.
For writing comedy, I have three different techniques I like to use.
Sit Down And Write:
I consider this the time-tested, old school technique.
I will sit down with a pad of paper. Other times I find myself typing on the computer.
Using a synopsis, I’ll start fleshing out a course for the conversation. If you don’t have a synopsis, you will be staring at that blank page for a long time.
On occasion I will use the wagon wheel method to organize my thoughts. (This is explained in the Script Writing Course and in one of the Maher Studios Dialogs Plus videos.) The basic concept is the hub of the wheel is the topic and each spoke becomes a related subtopic.
In fact, the Dialogs Plus scripts are an excellent educational resource. You not only get to see how they were created, but you get the final scripts. It is a wonderful opportunity to see how three professionals take scripting from concept to finish.
Video Your Session:
Other times I will turn on the video camera and start joking around with the puppet or figure.
I use the synopsis and talk about the subject. Sometimes having that character right beside you can make all of the difference. Plus it gives you an opportunity to work on your skills at the same time.
Joking With Friends:
The third method I use is to get together with friends and joke around.
I find the funniest people I know and ask for their help. We turn on the video camera, I pull out the puppet and we go to town on the subject(s).
I know that if we find it funny, chances are, so will my audiences.
By video recording the time, you don’t have to stop to constantly take notes. Although, it is a good idea if you can take them as well.
Editing Your Comedy Scripts:
Once I get the outline on paper or screen, it is then important to edit out the “fluff.”
Fluff is the extra stuff that doesn’t draw laughs. The extra words that do nothing for the joke. They just take up space.
Some writers will leave those extra words in. They help fill up the page, or make the routine longer. But keep this in mind …
A successful comedian will pull four to six laughs a minute.
To do that, you need to cut the extra verbiage and stick to the funny.
Editing is not easy. It is important.
One way to edit is to write your scripts like the lyrics of a song. You have three to five words per line.
Now go through the script and take it line by line.
What can you cut out? What can you change to make the wording paint a more vivid picture in the minds of your audience? Make those changes.
Adding Extra Laughs:
I’ll also go through my joke file.
Do you have one?
Always keep a file of jokes you find funny. You can keep them in a notebook, or a filing cabinet.
The joke file is a valuable resource when writing comedy scripts.
Don’t use the jokes as written. See if you can somehow rewrite them to fit into your material.
Memorize And Hone Your Comedy Scripts:
Once I have my script, I will record it as an MP3 audio.
Then I will listen to it. While I’m driving. While I’m exercising. While I’m doing chores. While I’m trying to relax.
This process does two things.
- It makes me sick of the script. I’ll find myself heckling it. Those heckles tend to make the material funnier and stronger. They can really punch up the material.
- I’ll memorize it. Just like you learn the lyrics to a favorite song.
Repetition helps you both memorize and hone your material.
Your Script Is Never Finished:
Unlike the script of a play or a movie, comedy scripts are never finalized.
When you first try it on-stage you must listen to your audience. Where are they laughing? Where is the silence? Try each line in front of several different audiences to see how they respond.
Now you must edit again.
Edit the lines that aren’t getting laughs. Can you change a word or rephrase the joke to pull that laugh? If so, try again.
If not, or repeated attempts to “fix” a joke fail, you may need to set that joke aside. (You might come back to it someday for that, or another script.)
As time passes, the script becomes a solid routine.
Even then, you will need to breathe life into it by keeping things updated.
Don’t Be Discouraged:
Know that not everything you write will be good and it takes time to craft and hone a great script.
The key is to have fun with the process and keep working on things.
You get better as you go.
Resources For Writing Your Own Comedy Scripts:
Comedy Scripts Writing Challenge:
In January 2018, I challenged myself to write a comedy script every day for a month.
I write what I consider “chunks”, short routines that can be mixed around and combined to create longer segments.
Each “chunk” script runs between 2 – 3 pages.
This challenge makes me exercise my comedy muscles. My brain must constantly search for the funny.
I must think of a topic to write about.
I must create a synopsis or storyline.
Each script won’t be a winner. But so far, each one has useable material. And I’m growing my content in a way I have never attempted before.
I challenge you to try this same technique to help develop your skills.
Get The Book!
You can now purchase all 30 Ventriloquist Scripts that I wrote during this challenge. These are routines that are being used in my own show. Check it out on MaherStudios.com – click the image below to make your purchase: