So I’ve embarked on the writing of the second episode of my fledgeling comedy sitcom. As I am presently at a loss as to how to move forward with getting the first episode made, I thought I would retreat to the safety of writing. I say safety, I mean purgatory. Why oh why did I decide to write a comedy? Especially an episodic one. Not only do all the normal rules apply – compelling characters, an engaging narrative, a theme, an actual story – but it has to be funny as well.
That’s kind of the point of comedy, the laughing bits, otherwise, you’re just writing a soap opera. As much as soaps have humour in them, they are not comedies. There is also the comedic tone. The first episode is quite gentle, with moments of ridiculous thrown in. That means even if I think up a hilarious, gross-out comedy gem, I can’t put it in. Wrong tone.
A lot of this blather is just so much hot air. With the sitcom’s premise and the characters I already have so much scope for comedic creation. The story is in place and there are even a few peripheral characters that could be utilised. Still, the mild panic of fashioning a wholly unfunny follow-up remains. Unfunny is the fear and the fear is real.
It might be karmic, all those times I’ve watched a comedy, disdainfully sneering at its feeble attempts at mirth making. Perhaps this is the spirits of all of those mirthless labours of love returning to haunt me. After all, who am I to think I know what is funny and what is not. Obviously, the issue is most subjects are funny or can be, depending on how they are approached. I just happen to be touching on depression, a subject and situation that many can relate to even they do not find it funny.
Depression is in itself not the ripest subject for chuckles. Though Woody Allen has pretty much built a career on mental neuroses and extracting the humour from the pain of it. Misery, after a fashion, can be very funny. As long as it is not your own misery. Even though many can derive humour from the misery or discomfort of others, it is not a route I am likely to take. I was always uncomfortable with watching characters embarrass themselves in fiction, especially if they did not deserve it.
Of course, a lot of the comedy will also come down to the actors. I know what I want to see, but it is different once the action leaves your head and living, breathing people have to enact it. No matter how vivid your imagination, tonally the voices that the characters speak in your head are still variations on your own. How they look will, of course, be very different to yourself, unless you have written some awful Norbit-esque monstrosity. So, the way it sounds in your head will be different from how it will play out in reality.
Then, by my own reasoning, I shouldn’t be writing the second episode, not until I’ve cast the first episode at the very least. As I have already started writing the second episode, however, I feel somewhat committed to completing it. Having spent weeks thinking of how to continue the story, changing it, coming up with parallel storylines for other characters and beginning to write, I will be proceeding with episode two, even as I try to get the first episode made.
It is all just an elaborate procrastination of course. As is the writing of this blog – whilst I’m writing this I’m not writing the second episode or recruiting for the first – but it is a way of building, building toward a sudden need to get it all done. That is how I work; faff, faff, faff, boom! I’m in the zone. It’s coming.