Expansion Pack: The Return of Comedy

Hi gang. Craig here again with more comedy items you can plot out ahead of time. The last post was pretty popular, so why not a sequel. The previous post contained a list of traditional gags along with some examples you might be familiar with. You can read it here if you’re coming in during the middle.

I even have a wrap-up post planned that includes some items you don’t plan for, but that’s next time. Let’s jump into our list. Everyone loves lists, right?

Misplaced Optimism: This lands at that point of the story when all is lost. It’s the inspirational speech that gets the heroes back on their feet. You’ve all heard those wonderful speeches before.

Here’s how the gag works. After the heroes are in motion once more, someone says something like, “It all worked out for them, right?”

The speech maker says, “No, they all died, actually.”

I have searched far and wide for a good example of one to share with you, but can’t find it for the life of me. For some reason, I can hear it in my head and it’s Johnny Depp delivering the line, but such is life after 60.

Comically missing the point: This is when the receiver of information gets all the facts, but twists them to his/her own purposes. It’s a kind of spurious argument, like politicians frequently make.

Peter Parker says, “Spiderman wasn’t trying to attack the city, he was trying to save it. That’s slander!”

J. Jonah Jameson responds, “It is not! I resent that. (beat) Slander is spoken, in print it’s libel.”

Insane Logic: In this bit, someone will walk the others through his/her thought process, but it’s absolutely ridiculous. In fact, the crazier the better.

The best example I can think of is from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. If you remember, it’s the witch scene. I won’t write it all out, but it involved floating ducks, floating wood, then burning wood, therefore she’s a witch.

Jack Sparrow also had a version of this. “Me? I’m dishonest, and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly, it’s the honest ones you want to watch out for, because you can never predict when they’re going to do something incredibly… stupid.”

Don’t be Ridiculous: This is an admonishment with a humorous wink. You’ll have to establish some of this in your character ahead of time.

“So you’re just going to storm the compound?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. I’m going to storm the compound whilst blaring James Brown music at full volume.”

I Resemble That Remark: In this bit your character proves someone’s points by their own reaction.

From Zombieland: Columbus said, “ Are you one of those guys that tries to one-up everyone else’s story?”

Tallahassee: “No! I knew a guy way worse at that than me.”

From Dumb and Dumber: “Yeah, I called her up. She gave me a bunch of crap about me not listening to her or something. I don’t know, I wasn’t really paying attention.

Humorous Lists: Put this at a point of tension, where someone is negotiating demands, or gathering equipment. List out some logical things, maybe throw in some that are surprisingly better, but that last one is the joke. “I’m going to need A, B, C, and a bag of Cheetos.”

Not this, that: This is somewhere in the early middle of your story. Your character is about to be rewarded, and is shown all the possibilities, each one looking better than the last. However, the actual reward is kind of a letdown.

This is the Angry Cricket scene from Men in Black. Agent K shows Agent J a list of increasingly cool alien firepower, but ultimately presents him with a tiny little gun called the Angry Cricket.

Fun with Virtual Assistants: I’ve seen this done several ways, but it has to do with the idea that VAs aren’t flawless.

One involves some kind of huge disaster. During the evacuation, the VA is calm and soothing, probably playing elevator music in the background. Godzilla is stomping down the building around the characters’ heads, and the VA says, “We are closing for the day, please proceed to the nearest exit.”

The other one involves a misinterpreted command to the Virtual Assistant. One of the best was in Spiderman Far From Home. Peter Parker is trying to stop Brad from sharing a compromising picture of him with his love interest. Check it out.

I have a few more, but you get the point by now. Watch for things in books and films. If it worked for them, it could work for you. Make a few notes. That’s it for today, gang. I’ll wrap this all up with some tips for how to develop some of the things you can’t plot out the next time we meet.

46 thoughts on “Expansion Pack: The Return of Comedy

  1. Pingback: Expansion Pack: The Return of Comedy — Story Empire – Author Steve Boseley – Half a Loaf of Fiction

  2. Pingback: Expansion Pack: Comedy wrap up | Story Empire

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  4. Excellent! Misplaced optimism makes me think of a couple of scenes. One from the 1955 movie “Battle Cry” where one of the soldiers (I think it was Tab Hunter, but it might have been Aldo Ray) is telling a big circle of people about this particular battle where he was surrounded by armed enemies, alone in a hill, no weapons, no bullets… And everybody is hanging on his words, and they ask him what happened and he says: “I died!” (Or perhaps “I was killed”. Aldo Ray was the one always telling jokes, so it might have been him). There’s another wonderful scene from David Mamet’s movie, “Heist”. Delroy Lindo is talking about religion and tells an anecdote about a guy he knew (I think in the army, or perhaps a cop) who was always praying and carried a bible in his front pocket, and the Bible stopped a bullet. The man he’s telling the story to is suitably impressed, until he tells him that if he had had a Bible in front of his face, he’d still be alive today.
    Thanks for making us pay attention to all this, Craig.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Great post, Craig. Your examples are great. On number one, I go back to the Ghost Busters scene when Sigourney Weaver asks the team if they are a god. When they say, “no,” she blasts them. After they recover, one of the characters says, “Next time she asks, say, “yes.” Good job.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:

    On Story Empire today, Craig Boyack returns to his “Expansion Pack” series, specifically with some super tips on how to use comedy in your writing. I found his examples to be excellent, and definitely plan to give a couple of them a try in my own work. Stop by to check it out, and you’ll see what I mean. And, as always, please don’t forget to pass it along far and wide so others can learn, as well. Thanks, and thanks to Craig for a fun, yet very informative post! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Wonderful post, Craig. Very clever examples that I really enjoyed. And I learned some tricks, too. I did watch the video, but with my poor hearing (and only being able to wear one hearing aid right now, due to the never-healing surgical site in my right ear) I had very little understanding of the dialogue. 😦 Happily, I still figured out what was going on with the AI slightly overreacting to Peter’s request, wink-wink, and him still managing to save the day. The visuals were terrific and I loved the concept.

    I do like to sprinkle a lot of humor through my books, but have never tried any set-ups like these. I’m definitely planning to change that!

    Thanks again for a fun, interesting, and entertaining post. Sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Pingback: Expansion Pack: The Return of Comedy | Story Empire | Welcome to Harmony Kent Online

  9. Pingback: Expansion Pack: The Return of Comedy | Legends of Windemere

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