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“Not that I’m saying it’s traditional” - --the stigma against the “traditional” in British sitcoms
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“Not that I’m saying it’s traditional” - --the stigma against the “traditional” in British sitcoms

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    • 1. “ not that I’m saying it’s traditional” --the stigma against the “traditional” in British sitcoms
    • 2. My last visit to Germany.
    • 3. FADE IN:
    • 4. INT. CHANNEL HQ. DAY.
      • SHAUN and ALAN, writers, are talking about the pilot they have just delivered to the COMEDY COMMISSIONER, a pleasant man.
    • 5.
      • COMMISSIONER
      • (genially)
      • We’re looking at all our pilots, and working out the balance - how many traditional sitcoms we want-
    • 6.
      • The COMMISSIONER stops in his tracks and looks apologetically at SHAUN and ALAN.
    • 7.
      • COMMISSIONER
      • (urgently)
      • Not that I’m saying your sitcom is traditional.
      • (pause)
      • Sorry.
    • 8. Two questions. (1) Why did the genial commissioner apologise for calling the sitcom “traditional”?
    • 9.
      • (2) And what’s with all the rabbits?
    • 10. A traditional British sitcom.
    • 11. The traditional British sitcom.
    • 12. An archetypal moment
    • 13. An archetypal moment
    • 14. Our take on this … of which more later
    • 15. Our take on this
    • 16. What’s wrong with this?
    • 17. What’s wrong with this?
      • farcical plots
    • 18. What’s wrong with this?
      • farcical plots
      • unnatural dialogue
    • 19. What’s wrong with this?
      • farcical plots
      • unnatural dialogue
      • demonstrative acting
    • 20. What’s wrong with this?
      • farcical plots
      • unnatural dialogue
      • demonstrative acting
      • studio shoot
    • 21. What’s wrong with this?
      • farcical plots
      • unnatural dialogue
      • demonstrative acting
      • studio shoot
      • cosiness
    • 22. (A word about darkness)
    • 23. (A word about darkness) … and back to the list
    • 24. What’s wrong with this?
      • farcical plots
      • unnatural dialogue
      • demonstrative acting
      • studio shoot
      • cosiness
      • audience laughter
    • 25. The magic formula:
    • 26. The magic formula:
      • nothing happens
    • 27. The magic formula:
      • nothing happens
      • no jokes
    • 28. The magic formula:
      • nothing happens
      • no jokes
      • mumbling
    • 29. The magic formula:
      • nothing happens
      • no jokes
      • mumbling
      • hand-held
    • 30. The magic formula:
      • nothing happens
      • no jokes
      • mumbling
      • hand-held
      • cruelty
    • 31. The magic formula:
      • nothing happens
      • no jokes
      • mumbling
      • hand-held
      • cruelty
      • no audience
    • 32. In other words…
    • 33. In other words…
    • 34. In other words… real life
    • 35. In other words… real life boring
    • 36. Real life isn’t funny
    • 37. Real life isn’t funny 80-90% of laughs follow:
      • “ I know.”
      • “ I’ll see you guys later.”
    • 38. Why the stigma against being funny?
    • 39. Why the stigma against being funny?
    • 40. Why the stigma against being funny?
    • 41. The Origin Of The Species
      • music hall
      • farce
      • radio
    • 42. Technology has changed the possibilities
      • portable cameras
      • multiple channels
      • digital editing
    • 43. Technology has changed the possibilities
    • 44. Technology has changed the possibilities
    • 45. But it is not evolution music radio traditional modern hall sitcom comedy
    • 46. Different styles
    • 47. Different clusters of styles dark naturalistic niche multi- camera hand-held edgy experimental farcical audience laughter studio warm demonstrative familiar linear
    • 48. Pick the bits that fit dark naturalistic niche multi- camera hand-held edgy experimental farcical audience laughter studio warm demonstrative familiar linear
    • 49. Pick the bits that fit experimental
    • 50. Pick the bits that fit
    • 51. Crawford Park: the page
    • 52. Crawford Park: the stage
    • 53. Get the audience laughter right…
    • 54. Get the audience laughter right… … and you don’t hear it.
    • 55. Get the audience laughter right… … and you don’t hear it.
    • 56. Get the audience laughter right… … and you don’t hear it.
    • 57. Get the audience laughter right… … and you don’t hear it.
    • 58. Get the audience laughter right… “ A lot of people said that we didn't have a laughter track. We went through this bizarre ritual of saying: ‘But it did!’ And they would say: ‘No it didn't!’ And we'd say: ‘Well it did!’” --Armando Iannucci
    • 59. The fashion changed.
    • 60. The fashion changed. Also out of fashion: PUNS.
    • 61. The fashion changed. Also out of fashion: PUNS. An example pun:
    • 62. The fashion changed. Also out of fashion: PUNS. An example pun: Q: According to Freud, what comes between fear and sex?
    • 63. The fashion changed. Also out of fashion: PUNS. An example pun: Q: According to Freud, what comes between fear and sex? A: Fünf.
    • 64. The fashion changed.
    • 65. The fashion changed. hymns hers Mars Pa’s Bars Bars
    • 66. The fashion changed. It will change again.
    • 67. The fashion changed. It will change again. But slowly.
    • 68. The fashion changed. It will change again. But slowly. Why?
    • 69. Second guessing writers
    • 70. Second guessing writers audiences
    • 71. Second guessing writers audiences fashion
    • 72. Second guessing writers audiences fashion producers
    • 73. Second guessing writers audiences fashion producers
    • 74. Second guessing writers audiences fashion producers
    • 75. Second guessing writers audiences fashion producers commissioning editors
    • 76. Second guessing writers audiences fashion producers commissioning editors
    • 77. Second guessing writers audiences fashion producers commissioning editors schedulers
    • 78. Second guessing writers audiences fashion producers commissioning editors schedulers
    • 79. Second guessing writers audiences fashion producers commissioning editors schedulers channel controllers
    • 80. Second guessing writers audiences fashion producers commissioning editors schedulers channel controllers
    • 81. Second guessing writers audiences fashion producers commissioning editors schedulers channel controllers critics
    • 82. Second guessing writers audiences fashion producers commissioning editors schedulers channel controllers critics
    • 83. Who loses out? audiences
    • 84. Who loses out? audiences
    • 85. A writer wants:
    • 86. A writer wants:
    • 87. A writer wants:
    • 88. What makes your peers laugh…
    • 89. What makes your peers laugh…
    • 90. … is not what makes the audience laugh.
    • 91. … is not what makes the audience laugh.
    • 92. A neurobiologist has a formula: ((R x D + V) x F) + S A
    • 93. A neurobiologist has a formula: ((R x D + V) x F) + S A where
    • 94. A neurobiologist has a formula: ((R x D + V) x F) + S A where R = recognisability of main character D = delusions of grandeur V = verbal wit F = n o of times characters fall over S = difference in status between characters A = success of characters’ stratagems
    • 95. A neurobiologist has a formula: nonsense
    • 96. The range of sitcom is so broad…
    • 97. The range of sitcom is so broad… … some don’t even have any jokes.
    • 98. The range of sitcom is so broad… … some don’t even have any jokes.
    • 99. The range of sitcom is so broad… … some don’t even have any jokes.
    • 100. The range of sitcom is so broad… Nighty Night
    • 101. The range of sitcom is so broad… Nighty Night The Thick Of It
    • 102. The range of sitcom is so broad… Nighty Night The Thick Of It (down here is not okay)
    • 103. Jokes can be hidden…
    • 104. Jokes can be hidden…
    • 105. Playing with the timeline:
    • 106. Playing with the timeline:
    • 107. Playing with the timeline:
    • 108. Playing with the timeline:
    • 109. Playing with the timeline: … when it’s right for the story.
    • 110. Mixing and matching:
      • The Japanese businessman
      • The long-suffering wife
      • The sofa
      • The dreadful dénouement
    • 111. Mixing and matching:
    • 112. Mixing and matching:
      • Fulfill commissioners’ need to be “modern” &/or “edgy”
    • 113. Mixing and matching:
      • Fulfill commissioners’ need to be “modern” &/or “edgy”
      • Fit the budget
    • 114. Mixing and matching:
      • Fulfill commissioners’ need to be “modern” &/or “edgy”
      • Fit the budget
      • Fit the tone
    • 115. Mixing and matching:
      • Fulfill commissioners’ need to be “modern” &/or “edgy”
      • Fit the budget
      • Fit the tone
      • Funny
    • 116.
      • Funny
      IMPORTANT
    • 117.
      • Funny
      IMPORTANT Danke Schön!
    • 118.
      • SOURCES
      • The Word Season 5 Episode ? [Channel Four, 1995]
      • "Wild Rabbit" photo by Joshua Davis [cc licence on Flickr ]
      • Terry And June Season 3 Episode 3 [BBC1, 1981]
      • Father Ted Season 2 Episode 6 [Channel Four, 1996]
      • Respectable Season 1 Episodes 1& 6 [Five/Paramount, 2006]
      • Monkey Dust Season 3 Episode 1 [BBC3, 2005]
      • Laughter: A Scientific Investigation [Robert R. Provine, Faber, 2000]
      • Imagine: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Studio
      • [BBC1, 2006]
      • "Drury Lane Theatre" engraving by Isaac Taylor
      • [RCM Centre for Performance History, 88E2]
      • Fawlty Towers Season 1 Episode 5 [BBC1, 1975]
      • Extras Season 2 Episode 4 [BBC2, 2006]
      • Crawford Park pilot [Pozzitive Productions, 2007]
      • Heresy Show 4 [BBC Radio 4, 2004]
      • The Two Ronnies Series 8 [BBC1, 1971]
      • "Del Boy is top of the class, say sitcom scientists"
      • [The Guardian, June 7, 2005]
      • The Thick Of It New Year Special [BBC4, 2007]
      • Everything Bad Is Good For You: How Popular Culture Is
      • Making Us Smarter [Steven Johnson, Allen Lane, 2005]