The Humor Unit involved learning different comedic techniques by analyzing different works of comedy. We read a comedic book called Rhinoceros, watched skits by Key and Peele, and did improve exercises to expose ourselves to different styles of comedy. Our final project was to create a comedic piece using the comedy that we studied in class and the comedy that we viewed outside of class. One of the things that I took away from this project was how hard it was to create comedy. It made me gain even more respect for comedians than I had before.
English Humorist Analysis
I have seen every episode of Key and Peele multiple times and they really peaked my interest in comedy. Many of the Key and Peele sketches involve black stereotypes and making fun of it in a way that’s not attacking what they do. Many of their sketches are very short and involve a lot of quick jokes and it’s over. Overall many of their shorter sketches come across better, but their are some longer sketches that work well involving good pacing for their set up of characters and jokes. They use a combination of satire, slapstick, banter, black humor, over exaguration, and more to make their sketches funny. Many of their sketches seem like a normal light hearted thing then go into a much darker place (black humor) and it is common throughout their sketches. Jordan Peele’s love for horror is very apparent in the sketches and I can see why he is now making horror films. Also recently I have been watching the show Brooklyn Nine-Nine which is a sitcom based in Brooklyn’s ninety ninth precinct. Different from K&P this is a tv show and doesn’t involve the short quick sketches but it has elements in the comedy. They share the similarity that much of their comedy involves quick delivered lines. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a comedy that brings up a lot of other difficult topics, for example the police captain of the precinct is gay and some of the episodes highlight his difficulty working as a gay police officer in a time when gays weren’t accepted. Some other topics that the show covers are adoption, family problems, bisexuality, and family in general. These are all topics that the writers play off of to create comedy, however they don’t use comedy to brush off the topics like they are nothing, they use it have a deeper discussion about the topic. Because they are two different styles of comedy one being sketch and the other being a tv show, they have different ways in which their comedy is being shown. The camera style in B99 has the feel of a handheld camera similar to what the office was like with a zooms on characters at certain points. The handheld style is suppose to put the audience in the room with the characters and make it feel less formal. The main character in the show, Jake Peralta, who is played by Andy Samberg is where most of the comedy derives from. Jake Peralta is a childish character and a slob and so much of the comedy is derived from him being a child. There is one scene where a character is interrogating someone in an interrogation room and Jake is hitting the two way glass on the other side telling the character inside to “ask him about his bank account” and he ends up breaking the glass because he is hitting it so hard. After breaking the glass he yells, “Captain, Santiago (who is the other character inside the interrogation room) broke the glass”. This is funny because it is similar to how a child would act when they would break something. It is exaggerating his childish attributes as a character. A similarity in that their comedy is that it involves character traits of themselves. Key and Peele uses their african american descent to create some of their comedy, and in B99 because they have characters that are gay, bi, very physically fit, and robotic they play off of their characters attributes whether it be physical or mental.
I can’t play off of the character traits like in Key and Peele or Brooklyn Nine-Nine because I don’t possess any of those traits, but I could play off of traits I have. A technique that I can use to create comedy is to play of off the fact that I live in a very affluent area. Making fun of the problems that I encounter on a daily basis that I think are terrible and seeing how they are nothing compared to what other people go through. However that is very played out so I think I will have to put a more modern twist on it, or only talk about more current things, such as tesla, because there will be less jokes about them due to them becoming popular fairly recently. I like the style of film that Brooklyn Nine-Nine has, because I feel like it adds to the performance of the characters and puts you in the room with them. However I think that the style that I shot the short film depends on what short film I am doing and the content. The key for this project for me is creating a group of different characters with different traits that I can play off of. I don’t really want to include the dark tones that some of the Key and Peele sketches have, just because I want my video to be more of a light hearted comedy story. Similarly to Key and Peele I do want to act in my own script because I know the vision that I want to have and I think that I can play the characters the I come up with the best. The sketch is going to involve exaggeration of the characters created and use that exaggeration to create funny moments. The sketch is going to involve a certain amount of absurd humor like one episode of Key and Peele in which Jordan Peele plays a dog that was previously owned by Ice Cube and has taken on Ice Cubes personality. The entire episode has Peele’s face on a dogs face and was very absurd. An extremely valuable thing that I can take away from both Key and Peele is that comedy requires very good pacing. From the start to the end it needs to be well crafted, and I think the pace will come through in the edits of the video, which I will need to have people watch before I turn in the final project. With watching the pacing I need to make it short because 90% of the time shorter is better. Again this will have to be done in editing, like shortening the time in between dialog to make it snappier. Key and Peele’s writing process for sketches is that they make a ton of sketches and then decide which ones they want to air, cutting out a lot of good sketches out. I think that I will have to emulate this process as well and come up with as many ideas as possible then cut them down to only the ones that people will get and be funny to people other than me. I have one sketch that is already written that involves kids, but I don’t think that I could find kids that would play the part well, so I might try to act as kids like key and peele do in some of their sketches. One sketch that comes to mind is the school bully where they were playing high school kids, but I would be playing elementary school kids which might be more difficult because I don’t look that much like a elementary school. I could play it to the extreme with high school characters and just have it be the style of the film but I don’t think that it would be that funny.
Originally I was going to do a sketch for my project, so Key and Peele and Brooklyn Nine-Nine were going to be major influences but I ended up joining a large group of my friends. Key and Peele and Brooklyn Nine-Nine still had large influences on our final project, but some other comedic influences that related towards the style of comedy that we were going to produce, which was a mockumentary, were the tv show American Vandal and a sketch comedy tv show Portlandia. American Vandal helped us understand how a mockumentary should flow and Portlandia gave me some ideas as to what my character could act like.
Our group decided to do a mockumentary about the flat earth society. We wanted to make it very absurd and have a super serious tone. For the script for our project we wanted to have free reign of the characters once we started shooting, so we wrote out the characters that we thought would be funny and questions that the person interviewing the characters would say with the plan that answering the questions in . However we ended up changing and combining some of the characters when shooting the film because we found the changes funnier than the original.
Flat Earth Society
the investigation of a radical cult
We have written extensive character profiles, a log line, and a basic plot structure that the film will follow. The characters will be interviewed and constrained to act as their characters, but their responses will be mostly natural improv from the character’s point of view. Many of our questions are scripted, but should something else inspire then we will deviate. This is ultimately an improvisational film, but with pages of guidance and rules that should lend it a structure based upon the different humor theory we have learned in class. Our goal is to accomplish this while also integrating the improvisational style that we spent so much time practicing in class.
Open minded investigative journalist enters the secret society of the flat earthers only to realize that his life may be in danger.
Basic Plot Structure:
- Investigative journalist played by Nicholas Fletcher enters the secret society of the flat earthers in order to shed light on their culture
- Slowly realizes that they are ridiculous
- Is shown that the flat-earthers are not receptive to globe-ists
- They stress the punishments that globe-ists face
- Towards the end ask him why he would ever want to leave their perfect and correct society
- Ends up trying to run away, but is chased down and forced to be a flat earther
- The film ends with our protagonist as a flat earther among the flat earth society and he is preaching about their flawless ways
- Flat Earth Society Conference
Guy who is super super religious and believes it because he thinks god created the earth
Believes that the earth cannot be round because God is not round
Believes that god created us in his image and since images are flat so must the earth be
Thinks that Leo Florendo is a reincarnation of god that has come to deliver the truth to the globe-ists, gave up his family and former life in order to join this cult
He is much happier now
Guy who believes in other ridiculous conspiracy theories and constantly brings them up
Aliens created the Earth and it really is just one massive flying saucer transporting us throughout the galaxy
Guy who tries proving the flat earth with stupid experiments.
Walked ten meter and measured the angle of descent and concluded that it was 0 which means the Earth is flat and not round
His shoes are flat so why would the world be round, he invented curved shoes and decided they were uncomfortable
Jumps and comes to the ground to prove that the Earth comes to him and that gravity is just an illusion
Guy who blames NASA and calls whoever disagrees with him government shrills.
NASA realized that the Earth was flat, but isn’t telling us because they don’t want us to wake up and be harder to rule
Everyone is sheep to him and he and the flat earthers are the smartest because they don’t take what knowledge his handed to them
Guy who’s lost
Doesn’t know what’s going on
Psychopathic flat earther
Hates all non-flat earthers worth a burning passion
The Globe-ists deserve life imprisonment unless they convert to flatism
Believes he is a prophet
Dry and monotone execution of dialogue
Nick: A lot of people in this world are scared. Scared of the truth. Those who are not afraid, however, bring light to the things that others cannot see. Today we’re lucky enough to visit the inside of one of these secretive societies, who works to prove their theory that the Earth is FLAT.
We follow Nick into a dark building, he signals to turn off the camera because no one can know where the entrance is. The light flicks back on and we see a person sitting in a chair with his face blurred.
- Can you tell us a little about the Flat Earth Society and their beliefs?
- Why do you think the Earth is flat?
- Frank Bennett, why do you think NASA is hiding the flat earth from us? What do you think NASA has to gain by hiding that the earth is flat?
- Chad Johnson how did you become a member of the flat earth society?
- Do you know where you are right now?
- Gary Nelson can you tell us about some of your ingenious experiments to prove that the Earth is flat?
- Gary Nelson, you have been described as the Albert Einstein of Flat Earth scientific theory, how did you get that title?
- Leo, you describe yourself as a god sent to deliver the people to the truth, why is the concept of a flat earth so important to you? Why should the people know?
- Alex Jones, why is the Earth flat? I’ve heard you are one of the more imaginative thinkers…
- Christian Smith, according to you God has delivered Leo Florendo to show us the light. Why did god create a world where the Earth is flat rather than round?
- How should globe-ists be punished?
The script was only used for some of the questions asked and all of the answers were improve, so there were a lot of other good takes that weren’t used. Here is the full film.
Here is the final film viewing with class reactions and our comedic influences at the end of the video.