We are often asked for advice on how to write a successful black comedy scene. Here’s a quick checklist that will help you get your feet wet with this genre of fiction.
We live in a society that thrives on black comedy. From “The Office” to “Black Mirror,” TV and film shows are full of comedy scenes that make us laugh at ourselves—and with each other. But what makes these scenes tick? Why do they work so well?
In this article, we will share five tips on writing a perfectly dark, yet funny, black comedy scene.
What is a Black Comedy Scene?
A scene is a dramatic situation in which the protagonist has a dilemma. A black comedy scene is a dramatic situation in which the protagonist has an extreme emotional reaction to the dilemma. The protagonist makes a choice that causes a chain reaction of consequences, which ultimately leads to a solution or a disaster for the protagonist.
Determine the Audience
Black comedy is about the absurdities and pitfalls of human nature. Think Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” or “The Office.” The most common setting for black comedy is in films, but it can also be used to make fun of situations in our own lives.
In your first draft of a black comedy scene, think of what the people are doing that you find absurd and how they would react to the situation if you were to write a short story about them.
The absurdities of the human condition are some of the things that make black comedy. The funniest movie scenes are usually the ones that are set in real life, but the ones that work in black comedy are exaggerated.
You can make fun of almost anything and most things in the world that you encounter. If you are writing a short story about the people in your life, then you can make fun of their attitudes and behaviors. You can tell what they are like by looking at the way they act in front of the mirror, for example.
People often say that one of the most common examples of black comedy is the “Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” sketch. This is where Brian is put on trial for being the messiah. He is told that he has been chosen by the Lord, but no one can figure out what the Lord is trying to tell them.
They ask him for a sign, but he gives them a list of signs, but they are all signs of the wrong things.
They ask for a miracle, and he gives them a series of miracles, and they are all the wrong ones. They ask for proof of his claim, and he gives them a Bible, which he promptly burns. At this point, the audience starts laughing, and the judge asks him to explain why he is doing all this. Brian replies that he is trying to prove that God does not exist.
The judge tells him that he has proved his point. The sketch is a classic example of black comedy, because it is so obviously absurd, and we know what the outcome will be. It is also an example of a meta-situation, because we know how the story will end, and we know that the ending is supposed to be funny. So, we are both amused by the story, and surprised by the ending.
Identify Your Character
To identify your character, you need to look at who they are and what their problems are. If your characters were real people, you would know them by name. Then, you would know what their problems are. You would also know what type of humor they would enjoy.
Think of it like this: What would you say is the most fun thing about life? It’s having friends. A screenwriter writing a Black Comedy knows who his or her characters are, and they know what they like to do.
When you are writing a screenplay, you need to know who your characters are and what their problems are. If you don’t know these things, you will not be able to make a good Black Comedy. You must understand your characters so you can write the story from their point of view.
When you are writing, you need to know what they do and how they act. You need to know what kind of humor they enjoy. If your character doesn’t enjoy the same type of humor that you do, then you will need to change it. You can also change the dialogue to make it more fun to read.
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Identify Your Setting
Writing a black comedy is all about setting. The setting should always tell you what kind of story you’re reading, and it should always reflect something about the writer’s worldview. This setting must be rich and compelling enough to support the rest of the writing.
Think about what setting you are in and what the stakes are for your character. Then think about what kind of trouble he or she is in. Is it something relatively simple or is it a serious life threatening problem?
In a movie where the characters are facing a dire situation, the audience needs to be invested in the characters and in the outcome of the situation.
The setting can be as simple as the physical location of the story, such as the place where the main character’s car broke down, or it can be more complex, such as the interior of the protagonist’s apartment, or the inside of a luxury hotel suite.
In all cases, the setting must be detailed enough to provide a realistic sense of where your characters are and why they’re there.
Setting should also serve as a backdrop for the story. If your setting is a rich and compelling one, the reader will be able to imagine what the rest of the story might look like. If the setting is too complicated, however, the reader will have difficulty imagining the plot and the characters.
Write Your Script
When writing a scene for a black comedy, it’s important to know the end before you begin. You need to know the goal of the scene before you start working out the details of the setting, plot and the characters.
- What is the goal of the scene?
- What will you achieve by writing the scene?
- What effect will it have on the reader?
- What is the climax of the scene?
- Will you use the scene to make a point?
- If so, what point are you trying to make?
The best way to answer these questions is to write the scene. Let the words flow from your pen onto the page. Don’t worry about the dialogue or the setting or anything else until you’ve finished writing the scene.
If you can’t answer these questions, don’t bother writing the scene. If you don’t know the ending, you can always change it later.
Writing Dialogue for Your Characters
Dialogue comes with a lot of rules and conventions, and if you don’t follow these rules, you’ll end up with a bland, lifeless movie. Here are the main elements of a good black comedy movie dialogue scene:
- The dialogue should be realistic and believable.
- The characters should be realistic and believable.
- Write in short, punchy phrases and sentences.
The dialogue should include the use of “sneaky little words,” so you don’t have to spell everything out. And you’ll have to think about the scene from the perspective of the audience.
The dialogue should be fast-paced and realistic. You can do this by using short, punchy phrases and sentences. You can also use a lot of dialogue tags – like “said,” “replied,” “asked,” and “told.”
These are all useful for keeping the dialogue fast and tight. You also need to make sure that the dialogue is consistent. The same rules apply to dialogue on the page as they do to dialogue in the movie.
This means you need to stick to the same style of dialogue throughout the scene. Dialogue can be broken down into these basic parts:
Opening dialogue:It should be clear that the characters are speaking to each other. This might be as simple as saying their names, or as complex as having them talk about their relationship.
Main dialogue:This should cover the topic of the scene. It may be a conversation about the weather, or it could be about something more important.
Closing dialogue:This is what happens at the end of the scene. It can include anything from a simple goodbye to a full-blown argument.
Other dialogue:This can be anything from a line of exposition to a joke. The best way to write a dialogue scene is to think about the scene from the perspective of the audience. You’re trying to make sure that they know what’s going on.
Examples of Black Comedy Movies
Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is a black comedy that tackles a scary subject that was on the minds of nearly everyone on the planet during the Cold War: nuclear annihilation.
The film is often considered the first film of the “Mad Men” era, because it depicts the 1950s as being full of fear over the nuclear arms race. The film shows the United States and the Soviet Union developing weapons that could destroy each other in a matter of seconds.
The film is also a fun poke at world leaders by making both the head of the U.S. and USSR governments totally inept and unable to make effective decisions to prevent nuclear war.
Highlights of the film include Peter Sellers in three roles (including the President of the United States). In the 1962 film, Red Alert, the American president, played by Peter Sellers, and the titular mad scientist, portrayed by Mel Ferrer, are both ex-Nazis. Stanley Kubrick found the comedy in the stark drama of the material and wrote a comedy instead. Dr. Strangelove is widely considered the best black comedy of all time.
The best French black comedy is “Delicatessen” about a landlord who puts his tenants to work by killing them. He then butchers and serves them for his own enjoyment. People find cannibalism funny under normal circumstances, but not in this French comedy.
It’s funny because it’s so French, the absurdist humor, the bizarre characters, and the absurdist situation. The movie is also about being poor in a wealthy country. This was my favorite movie of the year. It’s very dark and funny, with a great performance from Gaspard Ulliel as the landlord.
World’s Greatest Dad
Many people are familiar with Robin Williams from his family-friendly comedies, including Mrs. Doubtfire and Patch Adams. In World’s Greatest Dad he plays a high school English teacher who fakes a suicide note to cover up the death of his outcast 15-year-old son. His performance was hailed by many critics as one of his best.
Many are touched by the note, and so Lance decides to live his dream as an acclaimed writer through his dead son as he begins publishing more of his son’s “work” (really, his own).
World’s Greatest Dad is a moving, hilarious and surprisingly touching film about the relationship between a father and his son. Some critics hail it as one of Williams’ best performances.
Black comedy might not be for everyone. It’s a great way to give your film a distinct tone. You’ll learn how to balance darkness and humor and how to make sure it stays in the right zone of a dark comedy without going too far.