Skip to content

5 Important Aspects of Making a Comedy Film

The Most Difficult Photoplay to Make: A Comedy

Key Idea: The most difficult photoplay in the world is the good comedy.

Summary: It is hard to write a script that is naturally funny, which is why comedies are the most difficult type of movie to make. The funniest comedies are often not the ones that seem funny on paper, because subtle humor is more effective than jokes that are obvious. A good director can see the potential for a funny movie even if the script does not seem humorous.

  1. The Difficulty of Good Comedy
    1. Good comedy is difficult to create.
    2. A sense of humor is necessary.

  2. The Conception of Spontaneous Fun
    1. Few people have the sense of humor necessary to write a truly funny comedy.
    2. Subtle humor is often the most effective kind.
    3. What may not sound funny on paper can often be a rollicking comedy on screen.

  3. The Effectiveness of Subtle Humor
  4. The wise director will realize the possibility of the story as a laugh-producing comedy.

  5. The Wisdom of the Director
    1. The most difficult photoplay in the world is the good comedy.
    2. Subtle humor is the most effective kind, and because of this fact it is not always the comedy that reads funny on paper that will carry a laugh on the screen.

The Cost of Making a Comedy Film

Key Idea: The most important thing in a comedy is to make sure that no one class of people is made to look ridiculous.

Summary: Comedy is an important genre in film, and there are various types of comedy, including the farce, the slapstick, the refined or comedy drama, and the straight comedy. The slapstick seems to be the variety of fun most in vogue just at this time.

  1. The Cost of Comedy
  2. The Slapstick Comedy
    1. The slapstick is a type of comedy that is currently popular.
    2. It involves physical humor and often features pratfalls and other physical gags.
    3. It is often considered lowbrow or juvenile humor.

  3. The Comedy of the Past
    1. A few years ago, producers were unwilling to spend as much on comedies as they were on dramas.
    2. This led to a need to economize in the production of comedies.
    3. Times have changed somewhat since then, with high-paid comedians like Charlie Chaplin becoming more common.

  4. The Comedy of the Present
    1. The film manufacturer paying the Chaplin salary cannot afford to worry about the cost of production, stories, sets, and the like.
    2. He must be willing to pay as much for the humorous story as for the big dramatic production.

The Keystone Company: The First Slapstick Comedy Film Studio

Key Idea: Slapstick comedy was first popularized by the Keystone company.

Summary: The Keystone Company was the first company to make a specialty of slapstick comedies. These comedies were so rough and daring that a hospital for the wounded and disabled Keystonites was established at their California studio. Charlie Chaplin, Mabel Normand, Mack Sennet, and Ford Sterling were some of the comedians who originated this new form of fun. Many writers have tried to write slapstick comedies and failed.

  1. The Keystone Company and the Birth of the Slapstick Comedy
  2. That many writers have tried to write slapstick comedies and failed, is evident from the letter I have just received from Mack Sennet, formerly actor, and director-general of the Keystone company, and now associated with the new Triangle company (the Griffith-Ince-Sennet), capitalized at five million dollars.

  3. Charlie Chaplin and the Origins of Slapstick Comedy
  4. Charlie Chaplin, Mabel Normand, Mack Sennet, and Ford Sterling were the original Keystone comedians who created the slapstick genre of comedy.

  5. The Keystone Players and the Dangers of Slapstick Comedy
    1. The players were often injured while performing daring stunts.
    2. A hospital was established at the company’s California studio to care for the injured players.

  6. Mack Sennet on the Difficulties of Writing Slapstick Comedy
    1. The Keystone company was the first to specialize in slapstick comedies, which were immensely popular with moviegoers.
    2. However, many writers have since tried to replicate the Keystone formula for success and have failed.

The Keystone Scenario Department: Why We’re Lacking in Comedy Ideas

Key Idea: The lack of comedy is due to the lack of study and thought on the part of the free-lance writers.

Summary: The Keystone Film Company receives thousands of story submissions, but only a small number of them are new and funny. The company has a staff of writers because that is the only way to get new comedy ideas. The lack of good comedy is the result of free-lance writers not studying existing comedy films and using their brains to come up with new ideas.

  1. The Occasional Bright Idea
  2. The staff of writers maintain a marketable sort of comedy only because that is the only way they can obtain new comedy ideas.

  3. The Lacking Sense of Comedy
  4. The Keystone scenario department only receives an occasional idea that is new and bright.

  5. The Right Mental Attitude
    1. If the writers would study comedy films and use some analysis and brain power, they could improve their profits.
    2. The right mental attitude is necessary for success in writing comedy films.

  6. The Only Way to Obtain New Ideas
  7. The lack of comedy is due to the lack of study and thought on the part of the free-lance writers.

The Keystone Company is looking for first-class comedy material

Key Idea: The single most important fact is that the companies are willing to buy good comedy.

Summary: If you want to write comedy for the movies, you need to study what Mr. Sennet says. Apply it to the drama as well as to the comedy. Then, for the sake of your future welfare, I beg of you don’t submit any old idea that comes into your head. Wait until you are sure you have a winner, then submit it. Be sure you are right, then go ahead.

  1. The Keystone Company’s Search for Comedy Material
    1. The Keystone Company is looking for first-class comedy material.
    2. The company is willing to pay for good comedy scripts.

  2. The Writer’s Opportunity to Sell Comedy Plots
  3. The writer who can evolve a comedy plot has a big opportunity to find a ready and profitable market for his photoplays.

  4. The Farce Comedy’s Saleability
  5. The farce comedy is always saleable if it is clever.

  6. The Pretty Comedy-Drama and the Straight Comedy
  7. The companies are so ready and willing to buy good comedy, there should be an incentive to working hard to bring your scripts up to the required standard.