Common Strategies Of Animated Comedy

Common Strategies Of Animated Comedy

Common Strategies of​ Animated Comedy
As an​ independent filmmaker specializing in​ animated comedy, I'd like to​ share my thoughts and​ observations on how to​ create projects intended to​ make people laugh (in a​ good way) .​
By taking a​ close look at​ recent popular shows and​ movies (i.e .​
Simpsons, Family Guy, Shrek, etc) I've outlined a​ brief analysis that identifies some of​ the​ major strategies of​ humor used in​ many of​ today's animated television programs and​ shows, as​ well as​ the​ advantages/disadvantages of​ implementing them .​
Just a​ note before we continue: this article isn't intended only as​ a​ guide for​ comedy filmmakers- I'm sure those of​ you who appreciate good humor will get something out of​ it​ as​ well.
The following compilation is​ the​ result of​ my own observations, and​ I'm certain you'll see what I​ mean if​ you take a​ closer look this Sunday night when Family Guy comes on .​
Later, I'll share some of​ my own thoughts on the​ subject of​ creating effective humor for​ mainstream audiences.
1 .​
PARODY: This involves poking fun of​ well-known genres and​ plot formulas (action, horror, pоrn, etc), and​ making references to​ well-known films, TV shows, famous people, significant historical events, etc .​
Very often, these genres, films, and​ TV shows are spoofed .​
Think of​ the​ number of​ times you've seen a​ reference to​ a​ Kubrick film during an​ episode of​ the​ Simpsons, or​ a​ Star Wars reference in​ Family Guy to​ emphasize a​ joke .​

Advantages: First off, it's easy to​ do and​ often elicits laughs .​
the​ basic structure of​ the​ joke is​ based on a​ well-known source, and​ the​ audience is​ likely to​ get it​ right away .​

Disadvantages: To be blunt, it's lazy filmmaking .​
Too much parody thrown in​ a​ story can often be interpreted as​ a​ lack of​ creativity/originality, and​ ultimately limits the​ project's depth .​
Jokes/gags of​ this kind will only last as​ long as​ the​ spoofed or​ referenced subject is​ popular or​ is​ fashionable.
2 .​
ANIMATION THAT is​ DELIBERATELY BAD/CHEESY: Includes the​ use of​ poorly drawn/animated characters and​ backgrounds as​ an​ important element of​ the​ humor.
Advantages: Sometimes more efficient and​ more cost effective than using more detailed animation techniques .​
It's funny to​ watch and​ calling some attention to​ the​ bad animation can generate new jokes and​ great sight gags .​
Think of​ shows like Aqua Teen Hunger Force and​ Sealab 2021.
Disadvantages: Like the​ parody, this can quickly turn into lazy filmmaking .​
Depending only on bad animation for​ laughs might make the​ project difficult to​ maintain in​ the​ long run.
3 .​
GROSS-OUT HUMOR/EXPLICIT LANGUAGE: Includes humor that is, but not limited to​ being scatological, sexual, bloody, etc .​
Also includes use of​ foul language .​
Since the​ Simpsons and​ South Park, audiences have come to​ expect jokes of​ this kind.
Advantages: In small doses and​ if​ done with subtlety, gross-out humor and​ the​ use of​ explicit language combined with visual sight gags can be hilarious.
Disadvantage: Easy to​ overuse .​
Dialogue containing too many four-letter words for​ the​ sake of​ being obnoxious will turn off most viewers .​
Gross-out humor, if​ only used for​ shock value, will seem shallow if​ it​ does nothing to​ contribute to​ the​ overall story .​

4 .​
NON-SEQUITORS (RANDOM HUMOR): Jokes, statements, events, etc .​
that happen out of​ nowhere.
Advantages: Absurd humor that occurs at​ random works on several levels, which include the​ outlandishness of​ the​ act itself, its unpredictability, and​ also its general disregard for​ logic in​ context with the​ scene's apparent focus .​
It can take an​ audience by surprise, and​ can add some originality to​ the​ project.
Disadvantages: if​ an​ absurd and​ random act suddenly shifts the​ focus of​ the​ story, it​ may disappoint viewers who have otherwise been engaged in​ the​ narrative .​
Also, many people may not get it, which has the​ potential of​ restricting the​ viewing demographic .​
When a​ nonsequitor serves as​ a​ story's conclusion, it's usually evidence of​ an​ inability to​ create an​ effective ending .​

On creating more effective humor:
Characters with unique qualities: Trying to​ be original isn't easy, but it​ is​ a​ lot of​ fun .​
When creating characters, don't worry too much about whatever's hip or​ in​ at​ the​ moment .​
Start off with characters that have very specific personality traits, habits, etc .​
Base them off yourself, off of​ people you know, your experiences, or​ just let your imagination run wild .​
Give your characters specific hobbies, unusual interests (i.e .​
a​ hero that can't resist objects that squirt water), and/or specific likes/dislikes .​
These concrete qualities will often provide opportunities to​ develop character, storylines, and​ above all, humorous events .​

Stories with solid conclusions: Many creative folks I've talked to​ notice the​ difficulty of​ coming up with good endings .​
No matter what the​ genre, filmmakers of​ all sorts can learn a​ valuable lesson from mystery novel authors .​
When you come up with the​ idea for​ a​ film, start by knowing how it's going to​ end .​
This gives the​ story focus, and​ makes it​ easier for​ all the​ events to​ logically pan out .​
Another important tip to​ remember- audiences will almost always forgive a​ film with a​ bad beginning, but will never forgive a​ film with a​ bad ending.
Understand that being funny isn't the​ same as​ acting funny: Okay, what does this mean? Here's an​ illustration: There was a​ video on the​ internet of​ a​ careless skateboarder falling on his face multiple times after trying to​ coast off the​ roof of​ his parents' house .​
It wasn't funny to​ the​ skateboarder, but it​ was funny to​ most of​ the​ people who saw it​ happen .​
Why? On a​ psychological level, it's in​ our nature to​ laugh or​ take some kind of​ satisfaction in​ someone else's misfortune/failure so long as​ the​ screw-up doesn't result in​ death or​ dismemberment (most of​ the​ time) .​
On a​ more practical level, most of​ the​ online viewers laughed at​ the​ sheer idiocy of​ the​ act .​
After all, the​ careless skateboarder who plunged off the​ roof actually expected positive results from his stunt .​
So how do we apply this to​ creating comedy? Create situations that are funny to​ the​ audience, but not to​ your characters .​
One effective way of​ doing this is​ having your characters expect serious results from doing things that are clearly dangerous, stupid, or​ both .​
These are just a​ few pointers to​ help you get started with creating your own comedy, or​ to​ help you understand some of​ the​ more successful comedy out there today .​
I​ hope you enjoyed the​ article .​
Have a​ good laugh!

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