Comedy on a Commercial Production

Ryan Berman // Feb 13 // Insights

Archives

Categories
Tags
Year

Kudos to the prop department on Harrah’s SoCal Shoot. They Made Me Seem Stronger Than I Am In Real Life.

QUESTION #1: When are copywriters happy?
ANSWER #1: When they’re on set.

QUESTION #2: When are copywriters happiest?
ANSWER #2: When they’re on a comedy set.

We’ve spent the last week ambitiously working to unveil Harrah’s amazing new resort while also baking in a little ‘problem-solution’ comedy. I can’t talk too much more about the campaign at this time, but it did make me think about how we creatively maximize humor – for the sake of a higher purpose – in advertising.

Based on my last post on video production tips, I find people like lists.

Maybe I like them more than “people” but it seems to work for me, so here we go again. Today we cover comedy on a ‘commercial production’:

10 Things To Look For as a Creative on a Comedy Production:

  1. OUT LOUD…TALK OUT THE FUNNY.
    Before you ever get to production, when it comes to the script, create characters who talk like real people. Usually moments that are funny avoid the obvious and the cliché. Verbalize your script (out loud) and make sure your dialogue sounds real versus something that sounds like a commercial. If it sounds like a commercial, keep writing.
  2. OUTCOME CHECK IT.
    “Outcome check it” means your story has to successfully achieve two things: 1) make people smile/laugh, and 2) do what you intend the spot to do. Drive people online to learn more? Communicate something new? Whatever it is, you have to remember your magic comedy moment is responsible for being both funny and on strategy.
  3. IN CASTING, FUNNY-LOOKING PEOPLE ARE FUNNY. FUNNIER PEOPLE DON’T LOOK FUNNY – BUT BRING THE FUNNY.
    Casting is king. Suppress the urge to typecast. You may think it reads faster but it also places you in the land of been-there-done-that. Finally, if you settle on ‘funny-looking’ you may just give up a bit in the acting category. If you end up making a mistake in casting, you have to get creative in other ways on set. No creative wants to spend time covering up a muffed performance.
  4. THOSE WHO KILL THE COMEDY IN CASTING ARE ALMOST ALWAYS GOLDEN ON SET.
    If you get an actor who can deliver a top-notch comedic performance in 7 seconds on a casting audition you’re usually exceptional on the day of. Remember, these guys come in cold, feed the meter and are expected to nail it with no direction before moving on with the rest of their day – not easy.
  5. HIRE A DIRECTOR WHO KNOWS THE JOKE.
    Your relationship with your director is critical. Usually, it works best when it’s a two way communication street and both parties like each other. Then it gives you the ability to communicate freely before you ever get to set. If you and your director are on the same page before you ever start rolling, you’ll be winning.
  6. ON SET, SAFETY FIRST…
    …but once you have your safety take, start exploring ‘different’ reads, takes and jokes. Your goal is to take options into the edit suite. Push to get different reads. Fight for ranges and emphasis when you’re on set. Your editor may see something you don’t (in a good way) when you run the gamut of takes and emotions.
  7. PREPARE TO SHOOT EXTRA OPTIONS…
    On set, it can be like a choose-your-own-comedy-adventure coming to life. But that’s only if you are prepared. Write down your short list of possible moments you can capture before you ever get to set. Maybe you get to them all, maybe you don’t. Just by having that, you are preparing yourself to maximize the comedy.
  8. PICK YOUR COMEDY BATTLES IN REAL TIME.
    Know what your full day of shooting looks like before you choose to get ‘another/different take’ of a read. Usually, you know what will take you a long time vs a one-and-done. Find it in your gut to tell the director to slow down if something new and unexpected presents itself on set in real-time. Usually, a director won’t fight with you if you truly think you’ll love it — even if it’s a deviation from the script. If it makes the cut better, everyone wins.
  9. KNOW WHEN TO KEEP IT LIGHT ON SET. AND WHEN TO KEEP IT SERIOUS.
    In this day and age, you want to surround yourself with people who don’t take themselves too seriously – but do take their work seriously. If you keep it light and fun out there, especially on a comedy set, it usually translates into the final product. If you know where the jokes are and you’re a master of the material, this balancing act shouldn’t be an issue.
  10. FIGHT TO MAKE PEOPLE LAUGH THE 4TH TIME THEY SEE YOUR SPOT.
    It’s not the first time people laugh when they see your spot. It’s the fourth. Visualize yourself watching a spot over and over again—and if it still makes you laugh, you have a winner.

PREVIOUS POST

PR Spam: Are you

Lauren Wood
+

NEXT POST

3 Tips to Master Word

Suzie Sievers
+