I guess we’d file these under “words for things I didn’t know there were words for”. Comedy writers’ jargon, taken from John Rogers’ excellent Kung Fu Monkey blog. It’s fairly US-centric, but the terms and, more importantly, the comedy tropes those terms describe, are incredibly useful for the aspiring writer to know.

Jargon 1: Includes “a Bono”: a place in the script that, no matter what joke you put there, it fails.

Jargon 2: Includes “laying pipe”: writing and delivering the onerous dialogue which provides backstory and the plot facts needed to support the weight of the funny (or interesting). Exposition, kids, and it ain’t fun.

Jargon 3: Includes “the idiot ball”: On a sitcom, demarks the character who’s misunderstanding of a situation or comment – and his predicate bad decisions — fuels the comedy of the episode. That character is “carrying the idiot ball” for the episode.

Jargon 4: Includes “a couplet”: Two lines of dialogue — one character speaks, another responds. Call and response, setup/punch, question/answer. Considered the basic molecule of script dialogue.

And speaking of comedy tropes, I’m currently plowing my way through all the terms listed here

Comedy Tropes

but I still can’t find the word to describe “any sitcom written by or starring Jim Davidson*”. Other than, you know, the obvious one.


*Yes, I can do topical comedy.

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