Writing Funny: 2 Rules and 3 Tools to Build Suspense and Create Anticipation in Comedy

Season #2 Episode #31

In this continuation of of the Writing Funny series, Zena unpacks the last two letters in Melvin Helitzer's acronym, THREES, which make up the 6 primary ingredients of comedy writing. 

Emotion refers to creating anticipation and excitement on behalf of the audience -- basically building the tension and getting them to invest in the joke or story or scenario. This is done through setups. 

Surprise refers to the payoff, where you deliver the punchline or the outcome that you've built up to, but in a way in which the audience is surprised, and therefore delighted. Emotion and Surprise work together through good setups and payoffs.

To achieve it, there are several comedy rules and tools that you can use, such us: 

1. Whatever can go wrong, must go wrong.
2. Comedy must come from the character.
3. Use "The Pause" to create emotion and build up suspense.
4. Utilize the rule of three's. 
5. Tell a joke on the way to a joke.

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