By József Horváth, (Pécs) Lingua Franca Csoport
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Extra info for Advanced Writing in English as a Foreign Language: A Corpus-Based Study of Processes and Products
W intense investigation into what it means to be a human being—not what it means to beyou. genuine. Many comics agree thai the setup is more important than the funny part because this is where the audience decides if thev like you or not. Even when writing sitcoms, many funny scripts are rejected because they sound jokey and aren't authentic to the characters. Whether writing or performing, if your setup seems jokey it can turn the audience off. Here is another example ol a hack premise from Tom Dreeson.
You know what's hard about body piercing? You know what's stupid about body piercing? " "You can't come in drunk and go, 'Hey, here's a little switch. '" What makes a good premise? a A good premise is insightful. ] "Freebasing, it's not free. " — R O B I N WILLIAMS • A good premise is an original observation. Practice saying the above list, emphasizing the attitude. Do not be funny here. Keep it simple. " It's also not funny. Only after stating the premise does Leary go to the funny by getting specific: Comedy Structure: The Premise Attitude + Topic + PREMISE + Act-out + Mix + Act-out Now you are going to add a premise to your attitude+topic combo, to create what is called the setup.
Jokes without altitude can end up sounding too literary, perhaps humorous but not funny enough to get the big laughs. I lere are the four basic attitudes that are useful for working with this book—and writing jokes for, say, the rest of your career: 1. "weird" 2. "scary" 3. "hard" 4. "stupid" Memorize these words. Say them out loud right now. Elongate them as you say them. " These words are a comic's tool to get the really big laughs. You might have a tunny idea for a joke, a great topic, a funny character, but without attitude it will remain just that—a funny idea.