WilderWorks

May 5, 2010

Writing Comedy Alone

Running Long, or Short on Gags?
I'm running a page over again. I hope I can cut a page from the next segment to compensate, but I have my doubts.

As usual, there will be a long phase of painful trimming at the end of this road.

Here's the hard thing about writing a comedy alone: there is nothing more nerve-wracking and doubt-inducing than trying to guess which jokes to cut, having almost no feedback from an audience (and apparently, it's very hard to force detailed, joke-by-joke feedback from one's readership).

Nobody, no writer, no one, can ever guess what joke will play - only readers and viewers - only the sharp reality of an audience - can say for sure. But you have to make a thousand Sophie's choices all the same, without a shred of useful input from experience or fact or any sort of guidelines.

It's a time when self-delusion can be beneficial. You call it instinct, and you go with it. But it's a sickening sensation all the same. You may be cutting the punchline that gets it made. You may be cutting the punchline that is quoted for years. And you may be keeping a stinker.

Nobody, no writer, no one, ever knows.