Here are twenty of the best comedy scripts that you can download and read to help make writing a comedy script that much easier. Study these funny scripts and learn how to amp up the funny in your own screenplay.
Selling comedy scripts in Hollywood is a tough business. But a sure-fire way to make it that much easier is to give us a protagonist who leaps off the page. Make him or her someone unique, memorable and most of all, funny.
This screenplay, like most Woody Allen comedy scripts, is a great one to study in order to understand how to implement a strong theme. The idea of a nostalgic screenwriter, Gil, in Paris with his fiancé who finds himself being transported back to the 1920s every night, probably came to Allen off-the-cuff.
Mike White, writer of great comedy scripts such as The Good Girl and Year of the Dog, etc. is maybe best known for this 2003 movie, School of Rock. The version included here is from June 7, 2002 and has a completely different opening to the shooting draft.
Go Into the Story is the official blog for The Blacklist, the screenwriting community famous for its annual top ten list of unproduced scripts. One useful feature of Go Into the Story is its bank of downloadable movie scripts.
The titular Drew has been sharing scripts with curious readers and writers for almost two decades now, and has a vast library from which to choose from. A great benefit of Script-O-Rama is that it holds several drafts of certain movies, an invaluable resource for those who want to see how a Hollywood film evolves in the writing process.
When we go to a Farrely Brothers movie we expect a certain kind of product. Lots of gross out humor in largely unrealistic, high concept plots with a handful of genuinely inspired lines and moments. Woody Allen films, especially his early and mid-career efforts offered a witty, neurotic take on the human condition, especially romance. His fans know that we were going to see a unique, intellectual kind of creativity and wit. If Judd Apatow's name is on a film be it writer, producer or director we know it'll be something high concept with an abundance of sex jokes, but with an undertone of sweetness. The thing is, depending upon the kind of comedy you're writing, you may not need to be as funny as these guys. Romantic comedies need laughs, but not tons of them. Take two Reese Witherspoon films. Sweet Home Alabama wasn't a laugh a minute. Neither was Legally Blonde, but it was funnier and had a higher concept. Both had compelling stories. Guy comedies (or buddy comedies) need more laughs than a romantic comedy. Think I Love You, Man, Wedding Crashers, Talladega Nights, The Pineapple Express or Role Models. Let's look at television. I used to hear people refer to Sex and The City as a sitcom. It wasn't. It was a drama with occasional laughs. No one watched Sex and The City for the humor (and nobody went to the film version expecting to laugh out loud for two hours), as opposed to Seinfeld, Family Guy or 30 Rock. Same with Entourage. Is it a sitcom? Not really. Parts of every episode are hilarious. But it's really a drama with laughs that come from character. Sitcom writers have an expression for the parts of a script where there are intentionally no laugh lines: laying pipe. Information crucial to the plot is given. Comedy screenplays are allowed to have some laying pipe sections, but not many. And there shouldn't be one in the first 15 pages. You have to keep the laughs coming. So if you want to write a big, broad comedy (Tropic Thunder, Dodgeball, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Dumb and Dumber) your script better be funny as hell from first page to last. So if you want to write a romantic comedy or something serio/comic (serious topic with laughs) or a comedy/drama (lighthearted story with a serious or sentimental turn) you don't necessarily have to have 3-6 laughs per page. Once again, here is where having a solid story will supersede lots of laughs. In conclusion, can someone be taught to write comedy? Yes. Just like someone can be taught how to cook. If you take cooking classes, read a bunch of cookbooks, watch Food TV and spend enough time in the kitchen trying out recipes, you'll be able to prepare a meal that you won't be ashamed of. Learning to write comedy is pretty much the same. You can find a class or program on sitcom writing, improv and stand up. You can read books on comedy writing (Writing The Romantic Comedy is very good, as is What Are You Laughing At?: How to Write Funny Screenplays, Stories, and More). You can study comedies (you'll learn more from the bad ones, than the good). Lastly, if you don't want to collaborate and if your heart is set on writing comedies, just keep staring at that scene that needs punching up until a funny line pops into your head. Then do it again and again and again. Just don't try to analyze what's funny or figure out where it comes from. E.B. White said it best: "Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it."
Aspiring film director Krishnamoorthy accused the film producers of plagiarising his script, 25+25=25, which, too, was about a man who wakes up from a coma. Krishnamoorthy had registered his script with the South Indian Film Writers Association (SIFWA) in 2014 and pitched the script to several sources, including script agents, whom he speculated might have caused its leak. SIFWA compared Krishnamoorthy's script with Comali and determined that it was the same story. Krishnamoorthy said, "A twelve-member body in the Writers' Union, headed by a renowned director like Bhagyaraj, would not have decided in my favour if they thought only the premise of both stories were the same." To settle the matter, the Comali producers agreed to add a card before the film that would credit Krishnamoorthy as the source of the story. However, Pradeep Ranganathan denied plagiarising the script, saying, "The story of a man waking up from coma after years has been used time and again...". He also included a succeeding card mocking the previous card. "We both could have come up with the same idea. The script of Comali is something I had conceptualised even during my short film days."
At the top of the website, they have categorised the numerous different types of scripts that they have available on their website. This ranges across Movies, TV, Radio, Anime, Oscar Winners and Non-English films:
The BBC is one of the premier destinations for great TV drama and comedy. Its Writers Room site is full of valuable, practical advice, opportunities and even a window in which they accept unsolicited material. It is, in itself, a short hand for new and exciting writing.
This sci-fi/horror script uses a very minimal style, with short, punchy action lines that rarely go over one line long. The tension builds quickly, and we learn only what we need to know about each character and event of the film, creating hyper-focus on the terror.
The problem is that scripts are as much technical documents as they are works of art. You could craft a beautifully heartfelt and original script that will be rendered completely unfilmable by virtue of the way that you wrote it.
You may be the comic of your group of friends, so try starting with a comedy. Perhaps you are the family historian, so a historic film or one with investigative themes may come more easily to your skillset.
Many of our most beloved films have their original scripts available online and are easily accessible for us to read and analyze. Try to find even two or three film scripts online for stories you are already familiar with and give them a read.
Film and TV loglines are short paragraphs (25 - 50 words) you find in movie guides that promotes and hook the audience to watch the film. Loglines are also used to pitch a film or tv show to industry professionals for development and financing.
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