Substitution is a highly creative comedy writing tool if in the right hands. It basically means swapping a thing for another thing. Ideally the swap will be with somthing that is the complete opposite of what you started with. Substitution can be visual or audible as this example shows.
That most basic of comedy writing tools is often the most difficult to pull off. The first piece of information is the set up, the second reinforces the idea and underlines it, and the third subverts it or puts a spin on it. Here are some great examples from The Fast Show, Family Guy and Airplane.
One of our favourite comedy writing tools at Think Funny is the cut gag. This is where the laugh is created simply by cutting from one shot to another. This is a televisual incarnation of what is also known as a “reveal”. Here are two brilliant examples from “Father Ted” by Mathews & Linehan and “I’m Alan Partridge” by Steve Coogan, Armando Iannucci and Peter Baynham.
One of the more common writing tools we look at during Think Funny comedy writing courses is “crossed purposes”. This is when two characters or more create confusion when they think they’re talking about the same thing, when in fact they are talking about two separate subjects. If one of the subjects happens to be sex, we call this double entendre. Here are a few examples from the TV archives.
Checkout this short video promo for Think Funny comedy courses at Hornsey Town Hall, Summer 2016.