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Well it's great that you are having a go at a sitcom, but it really doesn't work well IMO.
The biggest problem is that this is really not funny. I mean I gave it a go and read till the end of page 16 but that was all I could take. I didn't laugh or even snicker at a single thing in 16 whole pages! If you are writing what is supposed to be a comedy you really might want to rethink calling it 'That's Not Funny'.
You also have a number of cases of incorrect grammar and punctuation, misspelled words etc.
You start off by not giving us any descriptions of your characters. Shawn is your main character, but we know nothing about him. At least tell us how old he is. And if he speaks with an Australian accent you would need to mention that so that the actor knows to adopt that accent. What is the lecture hall they are in? Is it college? An adult education class? I really don't know what's going on or why Shawn is performing stand-up in this class.
The conversation with Shawn and Peter about the new accent and the air quotation marks is repetitive and unrealistic. Why does Shawn want a new accent if he already has an Aussie accent. That would be enough to differentiate him. Why does Brittany adopt a Jamaican accent, isn't that a little coincidental. The same with her doing the qoutation marks. The whole thing just seems weird and is tiresome to read.
In the restaurant now, and how is there a receptionist in a restaurant? She would be a hostess, or a waitress, but not a receptionist. How does Shawn wordlessly respond to Sarah, what does that mean? Why would she think he is sketching her? It seemed weird that Sarah just exited after they exchanged numbers, I was under the impression she was still sitting at her table. Maybe you can indicate that she had gotten up from the table and was about to leave when she inititated a conversation with him.
Now Shawn is observing the waiter, who is indicated as male. Then he starts talking to him and all of a sudden he is a 'waitress'. What is that all about? Is it a man or a woman? In the argument with the waiter/waitress Shawn comes off like a tool. The guy/girl is just trying to do their job and Shawn is giving them shit about it. It's none of his business if they keep walking past the table or not. That's fine if he's an asshole but if he's the protagonist of your story you need to make him likable in some way. And then he asks to see the manager because the waiter/waitress didn't laugh at his joke. Are you serious?
Sorry but this isn't my kind of humour and with all the mistakes it just looks really sloppy. Maybe others will like it though. I'd suggest reading some other scripts though and commenting on them and hopefully you'll get some more reads that way.
Thanks Tim, for your elaborate critique, I really appreciate it. You have made some excellent points in terms of my descriptive shortcomings. I guess I didn't bother elaborating on things much because to me they seemed apparent as the writer and would be acting as well if filmed (personal project really). I guess I should clear a few things about the characters though.
Brittany is actually a caucasian woman from trinidad so she has a Jamaican accent. I thought of introducing her as a new character.
As for Shawn, he doesn't have a pre-existing Australian accent, but decides to adopt one because he believes it would make his jokes seem funnier [I should've mentioned that at some point.(nothing against Australians, I am from Australia myself)]. He is in-fact an unlikable guy (at first blush), despite being the protagonist. His non-conformity makes him unrelatable. For example, in the restaurant scene, he is in fact giving the waiter shit because he's uncomfortable (although not directly because he's doing his job).
Of course, instead of explaining each and every scene to you, I could edit it and re-post it.
Hi Sharc6196, I'm sorry, but I have to sencond the first big point Trojan made: It starts out with a pretty good idea actually, but then it seemed to parody itself in a way. There certainly is a lack of humour in this script. A show called "That's not Funny" must be funny as hell!!! So work on that, please, and I'll be happy to read it again.
Next thing: Your characters need more depth. You need to tell us who they are, and most important WHY they do what they do. I on't mean descriptions of the people to the director and actors, but to the viewer. You have to bring across to the people who are watching your show what these characters are like, after all, you want the audience to like/hate/commiserate them. If you give the chara-info to your director en bloc like you did in this thread, that's great for the production team, but no sufficient for the show.
Because, after all it's the fish who has to like the bait, not the fisherman.
Thanks for your critique. Currently I'm not writing because of my engineering work, but I will begin writing/editing around April/ May and will keep your critique in mind. Thanks for your constructive criticism.
I'd like to however ask you a question, if you don't mind. What is your inference of the character and the show? feel free to be brutally honest in describing what you visualize.
The show was meant to be a parody in a sense, but its not a very strong parody. I always watch these really bad parodies and I felt I could sort of have a subtle parody of experiences as I see and go through them. I don't know if that is what you meant, but I'd be glad to hear what you have to say.
Well, I hope I understand your question the right way:
I guess I do understand your intention here, you want to create a show that makes fun of all these stand-up comedians who think they are super funny, which they're not at all. The problem with that concept is, that in order to ridicule these people, you have to make them, as the title points out "Not Funny". And there we go again: Not funny means No jokes. But a sitcom can't exist without jokes, although the 80s are over and "Friends" and "Seinfeld" paved the way for shows with no real story. So the jokes must origin from the situations, and in order to create good situations, you need convincing characters. And that's what it all comes down to in my opinion.
I was constantly wondering: "Who are these people?" "Why do they do what they do?". I had the feeling that most of the time, they were just random guys wandering around talking about random topics. And that's definetely not the way it supposed to be. Those people need a motivation, a real strong motivation that makes them pursue their dreams/aspirations/ideas/whatever.
That's what I meant with "depth of characters". In english class, we learned the terms "Round character" and "Flat Character". At the moment, we just don't know about your characters, so they're flat. This link may help you: http://fictionwriting.about.co...../m-1292555787/s-new/
Answer the questions, and try to convey the answers in some way in your script to the viewer. Of course I don't mean you have to let Shawn hold a monologue about his origin and his living conditions, but take these things into account when you concider what makes makes your characters special; unique; what distinguishes them from any other person in the world. Then you have to apply this characterization to the story, and let the people face new situations in their own way. At the moment, the characters (I know you'll hate me for saying this) are solely names. Their only purpose to exist is to give you information you need for following the storyline. They don't have their own style of speaking, although you have some attempts on this, the quotation-mark-incident was something of that sort.
Maybe im on the wrong track, and this is all intentional. But then again, I don't think it works that way.
But let me straigten things out a bit, I still think there's potential in the concept. What you need to do is make your characters more believable, and then situation-related jokes will come to you almost automatically.
The idea for the show is an aspiring comic (Shawn) who has trouble writing jokes and uses different tricks, tips and suggestions to be funny, and gets into messy situations. He has a very convoluted idea of humor and that gets him into socially awkward situations. The genre of comedy I guess is awkward comedy where not the line but the actual awkwardness of the situation makes it funny. (I guess everyone finds different things funny). You're right in the sense that I haven't really expanded my characters well, but I do that gradually throughout the series. Before hanging up the pen I scripted the second episode where Shawn's character and personality gets exposure.
That's the reason I started the series with a "mock-standup" where it shows Shawn to be an unsuccessful, nervous, and unhumourous comic, and then he considers getting an accent, and it gets him into "trouble" becasue Sarah seems interestd in him simply because of the accent, since his "joke" doesn't really work. (the "trouble" becomes evident later on).
A lot of people suggested to me to have caricatures of my characters, to which I am strongly opposed. I have seen too many shows where the characters are blown out of proportion (Seinfeld/Curb qualifying as well) and I wanted to have characters that I see in daily life. normal people, who more times than not, just sit around silently, or are too tired for elaborate conversation (for example Shawn-Tarun dialogue). I guess i blame myself for the reason that to me the dialogue rings true simply because I know these characters, but what I plan on doing throughout the series is to elaborate on each character and why they are around Shawn, why they do the things they do.
I guess its partly due to my cryptic nature that I withhold information systematically so it would appear in an intended order and sort of imply things about the character, instead of presenting an elegant analysis of the character. (For example with Lesley, it is not directly clear if or why he doesn't enjoy her company, but once the series progresses, it becomes more and more evident.)