There’s the obvious saying, “Opposites attract,” but did you ever take a moment to ponder how this universal truth plays out in a comedy screenplay? If you’ve ever watched a comedy, which I’m sure you have as you want to write one, you’ve noticed that many films utilize two opposing personalities and throw them into an intimate scenario. The contrast these characters offer throughout the film provide not only dynamic interactions, but the vast differences between them is the perfect stage for comedic dialogue, actions and plot lines.
Establishing contrast between not only characters but also in scenes offers a visually pleasing story while solidifying the comedic opportunities offered by their interactions.
The notion of contrasting character personalities within comedy scripts is nothing new. Some of my personal favorite comedies features this screenwriting element. The reason: it provides adequate time to foster comedic exchanges while solidifying these interactions in realism. It’s common knowledge that contrasting personalities will interact in a certain, entertaining manner. A comedy screenplay simply magnifies this truth through vivid, yet contrasting, character personalities.
My biggest tip regarding this section is to imagine the complete opposite of one character and attempt to create this opposing person. Be as creative as possible. The more outlandish the pairing, the more entertaining the outcome (hopefully).
In many screenwriting circles, the topic contrasting story elements typically revolves around characters, and for good reason. Even though dynamic character interactions truly drives a story forward, establishing contrasting scenes and locations provides the necessary peaks and valleys of your script.
Comedy screenplays are no different than any other genre. They must provide scenes with various emotions, tempos and emotional revelations. Involving scenes that contrast in not only what is included in them but also where the scene takes place is vital.
Not only can you provide the necessary contrast through the markup of the scenes, but also what takes place in the location can provide hilarious outcomes. For example, a man is about to enter the courtroom to tackle his first case since returning to his practice. Just before entering court, his fiance approaches him. Out of breath, and obviously out of place, she informs him that the wedding is off. She chose this location because he wouldn’t have time to rebuttal her decision. This contrast enhances a common story scenario while setting up the rest of the film as the primary catalyst was delivered in an off-kilter manner.