Familiar faces

I’m currently working with the immensely talented Gus Hughes on an animated doo-dah for 4mations, and it’s been a treat every time a new piece of art lands in my inbox.

The stuff looks gorgeous, and then I noticed that some of the background characters seemed… familiar.

Who are these handsome chaps?

Who are these handsome chaps?


If you’re a… I hesitate to say fan, but if you’ve seen a few Shameless Films, then Reassurance with Chad Banger will be a veritable parade of in-jokes. He drew my spacesuit. I love him, in a wrong way.

When clams go stinky

A joke that has outlived its shelf-life is consistently referred to as a “clam.” I’ve talked a little about these before, I believe. You know a clam when you hear it. Here are a few of them: “I’m switching you to decaf.” “Check please.” “Who are you and what have you done with ___?” “Did I say that out loud?” “Too much information!” and its brother (hand over ears) “La la la”. Also we have “Was it something I said?” And “That didn’t come out right.” Or “That came out wrong.” And finally “That went well,” and its sister, “He seems nice”.

However, there are ways to adapt or revive clams even after they start to smell. Ways to extend their usefulness…

Find out more at Jane Espenson’s lovely, lunch-obsessed blog.

What’s interesting about the examples given is that they’re the kind of jokes I would avoid using altogether. When your character says “Did I just say that out loud?”, they are talking like a character in a sitcom. And yeah, real people do talk like characters in sitcoms, but I’d like my characters to talk like people who don’t talk like characters in sitcoms.  No clams, fresh or otherwise.

Basically, I don’t want to be stuffing something that smells like fish into anybody’s mouth.

Huh. Well that didn’t come out right.

MySpace launches comedy contest

MySpace has unveiled a comedy competition to attract extra clips to its new comedy section.The winner of the contest, sponsored by Trident chewing gum, receives £5,000 cash and promotion on the website which the company says would be worth £250,000.

From now until the September 21, comedians are invited to submit their video clips. Judges will select 15 semi-finalists from which MySpace users will vote for their top six who will perform live at a national awards ceremony on November 27.

Comics will need to submit three clips over the course of the competition, and allow MySpace and Trident owner Cadbury rights to use that material, as well as footage from the final, freely.

Dom Cook, head of entertainment at MySpace said: ‘We are creating the platform for true and credible talent to shine through.’

MySpace recently launched its comedy section using material from Warner Entertainment’s ComedyBox website.

Link via Chortle

David Zucker’s How Not To Do It

David Zucker sez:

In writing “The Naked Gun 2.5: The Smell of Fear”, I relied on 15 simple rules formulated in 20 years of writing, producing and directing comedy with my brother, Jerry, and partner Jim Abrahams. It has been said that comedy is all but impossible to teach – I have never once read a book about it – but we found it was possible to list certain things not to do. These rules are listed below in no particular order. And please don’t try them at home.

1. Joke On A Joke. We never try to do two jokes at the same time. When Leslie Neilson, who plays the role of Lieut. Frank Drebin of the Los Angeles Police Department, delivers a punchline, he always does it straight; he never tries to be funny on top of it. Likewise if there is something going on in the background, the foreground action must be straight and vice versa.

2. Unrelated Background. A joke happening in the background must be related in some way to the action in the foreground. A good illustration of this rule occurs in “Naked Gun 2.5” as Leslie Neilson complains to George Kennedy over drinks, “Is it just me, Ed, or is the whole world crazy?” As George tries to reassure him that “no, it’s just a small percentage of the population,” the waiter turns to leave and we see he’s naked under his apron. Unfortunately, half the audience fails to notice this because they’re still laughing at the silly drink the waiter has brought the lieutenant. This is a blatant violation of the joke-on-a -joke rule but at least now they’ll all have to come back to see the movie again.

3. Acknowledgement. Actors in the foreground must ignore jokes happening behind them. In “Airplane!”, Robert Stack and Lloyd Bridges engage in an argument, while behind them watermelons crash down from the ceiling and Indian spears thud into the walls. The actors do a fine job of ignoring the spears and watermelons, but because this bit violated Rule number 2 audiences still didn’t laugh. All in all a disappointment.

More at the link.

Friday’s Short Story

storytellerNo, I won’t be coming out tonight. You know why. Don’t make me… It’s the sharks, all right? There. I am frightened of sharks. I worry about shark attacks.

Oh fine, yes, statistics. I know that statistically you are more likely to be attacked by a shark when you’re in, like, the sea or whatever, but think about this: it is when you least expect an attack that you are at your most vulnerable.

Well it’s easy to say, isn’t it? Oh, don’t be scared. People tell me not to be scared, that it would be quite astonishing if a shark were to attack me here, sitting as I am in a room some twenty-five metres above sea level. Yes, but then the attacking shark would be able to turn my amazement to its advantage, swiftly overpowering me before I regained my composure.

Oh God. Sharks are prehistoric killing machines. They practice. I wouldn’t stand a chance. I can’t deal with sneaky dinosaurs at my age. They can shed up to fifty thousand teeth in their lifetime. I have, like, thirty-two, tops. You do the maths.

Also, also, I cut my finger this morning. If there is a shark even on the outskirts of town it knows where I am. Sharks can smell blood a mile away. I don’t know how you can stand there and not be frightened of sharks. They can smell blood. They can smell fear.

What, that smell? Listen: shark meat tastes of piss. This is why nothing eats sharks. Well, it’s one reason. Anyway. I just figured if my meat tasted of piss I could be safer. But then they might just chew me and spit me out. Like salty, wet chewing tobacco. I don’t know. It’s not a watertight theory but it’s all I’ve got.

These are the thoughts that will keep me awake tonight, as I lie in the dark listening for the warning signs of an imminent land-based shark attack.

I wish I knew what the warning signs of an imminent land-based shark attack might sound like.

Shark Attack
by Harris
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