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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Comedy Scripts  ›  In Search of Hysterical Jesus Moderators: bert
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  Author    In Search of Hysterical Jesus  (currently 4083 views)
ajr
Posted: April 26th, 2020, 7:06pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Dave,

So congratulations once again - it's a marvel that you can put together so many feature scripts so competently, and on a variety of subjects.

I had a special interest in this one since religion is subject I like to imbue in my scripts as well.

Just finished the read so my notes will be random, and I wanted to comment before I read the others' notes - starting with what I thought worked really well:

I really liked the fact that part of Barry's redemption was more about saying goodbye to Sharon than about winning her back.

I thought the self-sacrifice of Barry, where he does not want to see Jesus die, was very well executed. I felt that emotion. That is where the script lives, for me.

Barry comes off as a bit of a hack comedian - so much so that his plagiarism is a running joke, and while it just had started to become tedious, when you steer into the skid at the end and have Barry do it line after line and have Peter call him out on it, it did start to become funny.

I get the fact that writing a comedian is hard. It's something I would never attempt to do. Because not only do you have to write an entire script, you have to create a person with an act, and a history of acts. You have to write comedy routines, and if it was easy, we'd all be doing it, and performing on stage to guffaws. So I get that it's easier to make him a hack who steals.

But in the age of social media, hacks are exposed quickly. And you have Barry as a successful comedian, having done, or ready to do, an HBO special. Perhaps standup shouldn't be his profession? What about giving Barry a show, similar to what John Oliver and Samantha Bee do? This way he can rail on without the worry of whether he's funny or not, he just has to be clever and biting. And his target, instead of politics could be religion. And perhaps he doesn't take on the easy fodder, the kid touching and such, but concentrates on the institution at large - whether the church should be taxed, the ridiculousness of the Catholic dogma and the fervency to which some follow it, etc.

And dying on stage - yes, I realize you'd lose that. But it's a bit of a trope. And it's actually happened in real life. He can die during a taping just as well in front of a live audience?

I think with this approach, you preserve what for me is the heart of the story. For Barry, religion is just words in an ancient book. However, when you LIVE those words - it changes your perspective. This is the movie where you show Christians how un-Christian-like they are, by showing them how much they are NOT like Jesus.

So this takes me to a couple of other points - one, the logline, similar to STEP SEVEN, threw me for a loop. We expect a flat-out slapstick irreverent comedy, once you tell us that a comedian has accepted the charge from God to make the Bible funny. That line really messed up my expectations as I read this. One, why would God need more followers? In other words, Barry does not have something God needs. Two, the Bible is the Bible, no one is rewriting it, are they?

Which takes me to the ending... because all along, I knew it was a dream, so I read the script as if it was a dream. If you do that, then you have to say to yourself - this is a manifestation of Barry's mind. Saint Peter's constant berating is Barry's own self-loathing, which makes some sense. But then, you have Barry exhibiting an almost encyclopedic knowledge of scripture. It's cool if he knows the stories, but the literal quotes, if in fact Barry is dreaming this, is a stretch. He would have had to study quite a bit and then reject all things Catholic.

But then you turn it on us - you have Barry swear that it actually happened, ala The Wizard of Oz... and then you have Sharon confirm it. Which takes you off the hook about Barry's knowledge of the Bible, and suggests that he was actually taught the lessons from a divine place... but which takes me back to the original premise - why would God grant him this journey? I guess I felt that you should have chosen one way or the other, and not have it morph, or be revealed, in the denouement. Not sure I'm explaining this correctly.

Also, Barry is very passive on this journey. He walks along with Christ, and things happen to Christ, and Barry reacts. It's what would happen if any of us "modern humans" were present during these events. None of it feels intrinsic to Barry, if that makes any sense. And you tackle two very well-known scenes - the Sermon on the Mount and the stoning of the prostitute, and I don't think anything unique was added. For me, this script in parts strayed very close to THE INVENTION OF LYING, but more so to LIFE OF BRIAN, which I revere as the greatest cinematic achievement in history. I can do 80 pages on why that movie is great, but #1 is because they did not attack religion, they attacked the fervency in which some people FOLLOW religion. And the Sermon and the stoning scenes are two of the funniest things ever filmed. So if you're going to go there, it has to be different, and done with reverence (to the Pythons).

So for me, this was written as big-budget PG-13, and it should be written more as an Adam Sandler dramedy lower-budget hard R. Really lean in to Barry as irredeemable. BUT give us the reason. Spend more time with him up front. Because right now all we know about him is that he's a creepy lout. And along the way he becomes sorry for being one, mostly because he hurt his wife. Let us know WHY he was a jerk, and the scenes will resonate more. Did he have a domineering father? Did he grow up in the movie HEAVEN HELP US? (I did, and it seriously effed me up.) You spend 10-12 pages doing the dog poop cannon and going to jail stuff instead of feeding us who Barry IS. Does he want Sharon to move away? If he wants her back, the poop thing doesn't make any sense. And if she's too close, and he wants to forget her? All he had to do was move, like he did 100 pages later.

And just a couple of random notes as I flipped through - script is really clean, btw -

p. 68 - should be "resonate"
p. 95 - no one but the readers would ever know this because he's not addressed in the script, but you have PAUL THE APOSTLE saying "who Lord?" Saul of Tarses was not one of Jesus' original 12.
In the last scenes, LOWENSTEIN changes to DAVID.

I find this subject matter fascinating, so thank you for writing this. Interested to see where it goes from here. Best of luck!

AJR


Click HERE to read JOHN LENNON'S HEAVEN https://preview.tinyurl.com/John-Lennon-s-Heaven-110-pgs/
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eldave1
Posted: April 26th, 2020, 9:32pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from ajr
Hey Dave,

So congratulations once again - it's a marvel that you can put together so many feature scripts so competently, and on a variety of subjects.
AJR


Thannks, bud - appreciated.


Quoted Text
Barry comes off as a bit of a hack comedian - so much so that his plagiarism is a running joke, and while it just had started to become tedious, when you steer into the skid at the end and have Barry do it line after line and have Peter call him out on it, it did start to become funny.


Interesting you should mention - looking to cut down on the plagiarism angle in the next draft. Just a bit - you know, going to one well too often.


Quoted Text
I get the fact that writing a comedian is hard. It's something I would never attempt to do. Because not only do you have to write an entire script, you have to create a person with an act, and a history of acts. You have to write comedy routines, and if it was easy, we'd all be doing it, and performing on stage to guffaws. So I get that it's easier to make him a hack who steals.

But in the age of social media, hacks are exposed quickly. And you have Barry as a successful comedian, having done, or ready to do, an HBO special. Perhaps standup shouldn't be his profession? What about giving Barry a show, similar to what John Oliver and Samantha Bee do? This way he can rail on without the worry of whether he's funny or not, he just has to be clever and biting. And his target, instead of politics could be religion. And perhaps he doesn't take on the easy fodder, the kid touching and such, but concentrates on the institution at large - whether the church should be taxed, the ridiculousness of the Catholic dogma and the fervency to which some follow it, etc.


That's an interesting take - That being said, I have to keep him under the level of being too successful - known. i.e., He can't be Jon Stewart level - more of a d-list celebrity type.  So, while I appreciate that idea - not quite sure it works in terms of keeping his status (or lack thereof).  Let me mull it over.


Quoted Text
So this takes me to a couple of other points - one, the logline, similar to STEP SEVEN, threw me for a loop. We expect a flat-out slapstick irreverent comedy, once you tell us that a comedian has accepted the charge from God to make the Bible funny. That line really messed up my expectations as I read this. One, why would God need more followers? In other words, Barry does not have something God needs. Two, the Bible is the Bible, no one is rewriting it, are they?


That's a good point on the logline. I think I need to add a bit of the twist to it - i.e., a comedian that mistakenly believes he is on a mission to...is instead....


Quoted Text
Which takes me to the ending... because all along, I knew it was a dream, so I read the script as if it was a dream. If you do that, then you have to say to yourself - this is a manifestation of Barry's mind. Saint Peter's constant berating is Barry's own self-loathing, which makes some sense. But then, you have Barry exhibiting an almost encyclopedic knowledge of scripture. It's cool if he knows the stories, but the literal quotes, if in fact Barry is dreaming this, is a stretch. He would have had to study quite a bit and then reject all things Catholic.


I'm a bit lost on the point here - I think Barry generally demonstrates that he is an idiot when it comes to the Bible other than the basic premises that are drilled into us in Catechism - e.g., baptism, etc.


Quoted Text
But then you turn it on us - you have Barry swear that it actually happened, ala The Wizard of Oz... and then you have Sharon confirm it. Which takes you off the hook about Barry's knowledge of the Bible, and suggests that he was actually taught the lessons from a divine place... but which takes me back to the original premise - why would God grant him this journey? I guess I felt that you should have chosen one way or the other, and not have it morph, or be revealed, in the denouement. Not sure I'm explaining this correctly.


I get that - I take your point here. I think I have to pick my poison. Good note.


Quoted Text
Also, Barry is very passive on this journey. He walks along with Christ, and things happen to Christ, and Barry reacts. It's what would happen if any of us "modern humans" were present during these events. None of it feels intrinsic to Barry, if that makes any sense. And you tackle two very well-known scenes - the Sermon on the Mount and the stoning of the prostitute, and I don't think anything unique was added. For me, this script in parts strayed very close to THE INVENTION OF LYING, but more so to LIFE OF BRIAN, which I revere as the greatest cinematic achievement in history. I can do 80 pages on why that movie is great, but #1 is because they did not attack religion, they attacked the fervency in which some people FOLLOW religion. And the Sermon and the stoning scenes are two of the funniest things ever filmed. So if you're going to go there, it has to be different, and done with reverence (to the Pythons).


I somewhat understand the passive part here - others have chimed in similar - I am torn because I want him to be lazy and passive = lazy.  Not sure why I understand the Life of Brian reference - I don't see the scenes as the same.


Quoted Text
So for me, this was written as big-budget PG-13, and it should be written more as an Adam Sandler dramedy lower-budget hard R. Really lean in to Barry as irredeemable. BUT give us the reason. Spend more time with him up front. Because right now all we know about him is that he's a creepy lout. And along the way he becomes sorry for being one, mostly because he hurt his wife. Let us know WHY he was a jerk, and the scenes will resonate more. Did he have a domineering father? Did he grow up in the movie HEAVEN HELP US? (I did, and it seriously effed me up.) You spend 10-12 pages doing the dog poop cannon and going to jail stuff instead of feeding us who Barry IS. Does he want Sharon to move away? If he wants her back, the poop thing doesn't make any sense. And if she's too close, and he wants to forget her? All he had to do was move, like he did 100 pages later.


I actually want more Ricky Gervais and less Sandler.  I like some of the ideas here on Barry's back story.


Quoted Text
p. 68 - should be "resonate"

p. 95 - no one but the readers would ever know this because he's not addressed in the script, but you have PAUL THE APOSTLE saying "who Lord?" Saul of Tarses was not one of Jesus' original 12.

In the last scenes, LOWENSTEIN changes to DAVID.


Got it - thanks


Quoted Text
I find this subject matter fascinating, so thank you for writing this. Interested to see where it goes from here. Best of luck!

AJR


Thanks a ton, Anthony - much appreciated.  I entered it in three contests last year and got pretty close - two finalists and a quarter.

So - it at least made a cut in all three - I made some revisions since then - I think I have another couple swipes left in me and these notes will help in that journey


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts

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eldave1  -  April 26th, 2020, 10:03pm
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ajr
Posted: April 28th, 2020, 7:30pm Report to Moderator
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My pleasure - just to clarify, I probably mislead you with the Sandler comparison - I don't think he should be the archetype for Barry, I was more talking about the kind of films he's started to make lately, where he moved away from the slapstick and the over-the-top stuff and added more gravitas... and curiously, I did not get Gervais when I read this - it was more Jim Jeffries for me... was that ever in your head when you wrote him?

Again, liked what you did with Jesus. You didn't write him as a revolutionary or a fire and brimstone preacher, you wrote him as a Rabbi, which was quite refreshing.

AJR


Click HERE to read JOHN LENNON'S HEAVEN https://preview.tinyurl.com/John-Lennon-s-Heaven-110-pgs/
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eldave1
Posted: April 28th, 2020, 7:55pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from ajr
My pleasure - just to clarify, I probably mislead you with the Sandler comparison - I don't think he should be the archetype for Barry, I was more talking about the kind of films he's started to make lately, where he moved away from the slapstick and the over-the-top stuff and added more gravitas... and curiously, I did not get Gervais when I read this - it was more Jim Jeffries for me... was that ever in your head when you wrote him?

Again, liked what you did with Jesus. You didn't write him as a revolutionary or a fire and brimstone preacher, you wrote him as a Rabbi, which was quite refreshing.

AJR


Got it - thanks again for the read - good stuff to consider.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Geezis
Posted: April 29th, 2020, 9:33am Report to Moderator
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Finally got around to reading this and have to say I liked it. A lot.

I loved the interplay between Barry and Peter and the dialogue with Barry and God.

I didn't like Barry as a character but I suppose that was the point, he had to find redemption and become less annoying at the end.

For me, and only because it's what I would have liked to have seen, is a comedian counterpart to Barry in biblical times, someone who was funny and left Barry questioning his own ability to be funny. Not a criticism, just a wish.

Well done Dave, a funny, mature and emotional read.

I have read all the posts in this thread but if it hasn't been mentioned before then I saw Paul Giamatti playing Barry. I just think he's a great actor.


If at first you don't succeed........bribe someone.
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eldave1
Posted: April 29th, 2020, 12:39pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Geezis
Finally got around to reading this and have to say I liked it. A lot.

I loved the interplay between Barry and Peter and the dialogue with Barry and God.

I didn't like Barry as a character but I suppose that was the point, he had to find redemption and become less annoying at the end.

For me, and only because it's what I would have liked to have seen, is a comedian counterpart to Barry in biblical times, someone who was funny and left Barry questioning his own ability to be funny. Not a criticism, just a wish.

Well done Dave, a funny, mature and emotional read.

I have read all the posts in this thread but if it hasn't been mentioned before then I saw Paul Giamatti playing Barry. I just think he's a great actor.


Finally a review from "Geezis" himself

Thanks. bud - glad you enjoyed it.  The counterpart idea is an interesting one - will surely put that in the hopper. Thanks much.



My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Robert Timsah
Posted: August 31st, 2020, 9:12pm Report to Moderator
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I'm 12 pages in, and generally I find it readable and well structured. I admire anyone who takes a crack at a full length comedy. Couple o' notes, don't kill me, they're sort of nits.


Quoted Text

Oh - yeah. I need you to go to the
store and get some dog food too.
This is the brand he likes.


Comedy is such a bitch to write, but I think it'd help a lot if it were done quicker and with less words?


Quoted Text
BARRY
Booker - can you feed him while I'm gone?

She just stares at him, blinking in amazement at his audacity.

BARRY
(raises empty bag up)
"This is the what you need to buy". (LOL)

SHARON
"No".

She starts closing the door.

BARRY
He still talks about you..

SHARON
(holds the door)
Then tell him I'm allergic to him! (now she's getting in on the sarcasm)

BARRY
(Pauses)
I thought your immune system would adapt..


We also get the added bonus of pissing off the parenthetical police at the same time. Anyway, I'll keep reading but it'll take me awhile because I wear my mask while I read (alone) and it reduces my oxygen levels.


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eldave1
Posted: August 31st, 2020, 10:28pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Robert Timsah
I'm 12 pages in, and generally I find it readable and well structured. I admire anyone who takes a crack at a full length comedy. Couple o' notes, don't kill me, they're sort of nits.



Comedy is such a bitch to write, but I think it'd help a lot if it were done quicker and with less words?



We also get the added bonus of pissing off the parenthetical police at the same time. Anyway, I'll keep reading but it'll take me awhile because I wear my mask while I read (alone) and it reduces my oxygen levels.


Hey, mate - thanks for the note - appreciate it.

Careful of that mask - don't want to get oxygen deprived.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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