So You Want To/Write a Black Comedy

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How-To Guide

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A common actors' saying is "Dying is easy: comedy is hard." And Black Comedy, which uses dark and serious matters and themes as its subject matter to invoke laughter is one of the hardest things to write well.

Necessary Tropes[edit | hide | hide all]

Choices, Choices[edit | hide]

Pitfalls[edit | hide]

  • Comedic Sociopathy. This is can make a Black Comedy become depressing or impossible to take seriously [1]. Just don't use it too much and use irony instead of just apathy for humor.
  • Know your Target Audience. How dark do you plan to go?
    • You want to make your audience laugh, not alienate them and get "Dude, Not Funny".
    • Or they may see your effort as a tame and over-cautious pretence.

Potential Subversions[edit | hide]

Writers' Lounge[edit | hide]

Suggested Themes and Aesops[edit | hide]

Potential Motifs[edit | hide]

Suggested Plots[edit | hide]

Departments[edit | hide]

Set Designer / Location Scout[edit | hide]

Props Department[edit | hide]

Costume Designer[edit | hide]

Casting Director[edit | hide]

Stunt Department[edit | hide]

Extra Credit[edit | hide]

The Greats[edit | hide]

  • Catch-22 - Allegedly the work the term "black comedy" was coined for. Combines increasingly hilarious running gags with an increasingly dark take on the horrors of war.
  • Dr. Strangelove - It's a bona fide classic. With the power of nuclear war, Stanley Kubrick crafted a satire like no other.
  • Network - Despite its dramatic elements, this film is still hilarious at times.
  • RoboCop - This is an odd example. It plays itself as an action film, but still satirizes the idea of large corporations. Watch it anyways.
  • Blackadder - One of the crappiest crapsack worlds with one of the most evil heroic sociopath.

The Epic Fails[edit | hide]

  1. It may be a strange issue for a comedy, but even a pratfall requires the clown to start in an upright position. Some contrast is necessary.