The use of overstatements can either boost or take away from the comedy screenplays. While the most seasoned screenwriters understand how to add overstatements to their scripts, if you are just starting out or have little experience in comedy script writing, then you must continue with caution. The primary reason for this rule is the fact overstatements can throw off the natural comedic timing of some characters; however, if handled properly, the “word diarrhea” of some characters dramatically enhances their personality as well as sets the comedic tone of the script.
Using overstatements in dialogue and action sequences is among the most popular methods of establishing quirky and comedic character personalities. When wisely used, this technique adds a dynamic comedic level.
Comedy Script Writing – Overstating the Obvious
While overstating the obvious is typically a huge mistake in regards to screenwriting, if appropriate based upon character personality and storytelling technique, this comedy element adds something special to your story. There isn’t a definitive guide for utilizing this technique; however, the following tips are gathered throughout my years of professional screenwriting and filmmaking experience.
Know When Enough is Enough – One of the biggest issues I find with most screenwriters when they attempt to overstate the obvious for the sake of comedy is knowing when to stop. Remember, while this can add some level of humor, if you take it too far the audience becomes bored. Repetition is the biggest drawback to any screenplay. Therefore, eliminate this possibility by only overstating what needs to be overstated for the sake of comedy. Leave everything else alone.
Support Leading Characters – In the classic film “The Big Lebowski,” the character Donny repeats the obvious to the primary characters. While this annoys the snot out of the main characters, it is an endearing quality. The screenwriter understood when enough was enough. Instead of having this character continually repeat common knowledge, it’s delivered in a roundabout method. Watch this film to gain a better understanding of how to professionally engage in this writing method.
Maintain Character Personality – No matter how or why you choose to utilize this screenwriting method in your comedy, it’s essential to always maintain core personality traits. There is a reason why this character feels the need to repeat common knowledge. Figure out this reason and play toward this personality element. Doing so makes his repetition seem natural, even expected and adored.