Brent Forrester’s TV Comedy Course: Rewrite

It’s now time for the last part of Brent Forrester’s TV Comedy Course: the dreaded rewrite.

Actually, this is one of the best parts. It’s way more complex and more stressful figuring out a storyline. The final rewrite is about punching up jokes, adding gags, and having fun with the script.

Brent Forrester’s Sitcom Writing Process

The final step in the process is a doozy: feedback with notes, rewrite, group rewrite, actor table read with notes, final rewrite, and shoot it. If you are by yourself, find a way to get a table read done. You could post on social media and quickly organize a read using Zoom. You get a lot of valuable feedback when others read the script aloud.

Punchup writers were consistently the most-paid writers in the industry. Punchup is a big part of rewriting. You can leverage several mechanisms for joke writing:

  1. The contrast between the sacred (religion, babies, funerals, and old people) and the profane (sex, violence, and bathroom stuff)
  2. Defiance of expectation
  3. Escalation
  4. Turn
  5. Irony
  6. Wordplay like puns (careful puns might not make people laugh), alliteration, rhyming, etc.
  7. Visual comedy often works better – the reversal of scale
  8. Mismatch of the attitude to the situation
  9. Freezeframe jokes (things in the background)
  10. The rule of three (two good ones and a bad one)
  11. Strong sounds in words (plosives, K sounds)
  12. Callback (a mechanical and contrived reference to a previous joke)

The cold open must be funny. Just set up a comedic character in a situation. Find the easy path.

The principle of comedy that Brent shared comes from Wayne Federman: C.B.S. (clear, brief, and specific). If you were going to use the word animal in a joke, punch it up with a specific animal. Aardvark.

Whew. We made it through six weeks of classes from Brent Forrester. Each class was dense and compelling. I really appreciate Brent’s enthusiasm and encouragement along the way.

“The act of completing something is miraculous and could be life-changing!”

Brent Forrester

Set a deadline and get something done.

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