What makes a romantic-comedy film a big hit? It’s not just the moment’s most appealing actors, the setting or even the typical storyline as some might imagine.
Often what makes a romantic-comedy so appealing and memorable to the audience are the snarky one-liners, the hilarious situations the characters find themselves in and how humorously they relate to each other. A good romantic-comedy screenplay has essential elements that complete the story and these include an unusual storyline, relatable and admirable main characters, quirky moments and surprising happy ever afters. Your ability to inject natural and original humor in your screenplay that people can actually laugh along with rather than laugh at will make a huge impact on your viewers.
Finding good humor doesn’t always mean you have to be the funniest person in the room. Sometimes it means you have to explore the lighter side of things and look at the interactions people have with each other from a new perspective. Think ‘Seinfeld’ where simple and mundane moments that we all can relate to being pushed to the level of absurdity. Hangout with your odd friends, interact with new people and expose yourself to new ideas that will give you inspiration.
Here are ways you can easily add humor to your romantic-comedy film.
Discover the Humorous Side of your Character
Humor doesn’t show up unless you add a bit of nonsense, an innocent mistake or simply just discover what makes your character funny through a series of thoughts and actions in your screenplay. There’s no formula for humor, yet most of it is discovered through unusual thoughts and adding weird lines or actions that people might think themselves, but never hear being said. Write down all the crazy ideas in your mind when you’re in social situations, when dating or with your partner. Share some of these concepts with your friends and see what sticks.
Put an Odd Twist on the Everyday
Think of a unique plot that will at first perplex your audience but leave them with side splitting laughter. A businessman in a nice suit has to hurry to catch a flight is quite ordinary, but not when his only way to get there is pedaling a tandem bike in a fury. Or a man has to get flowers for his mother, but his only option is to raid a nearby cemetery.
Combine Humor With Chemistry
It’s not a romantic-comedy film without the chemistry, so if you’ve started imagining this man as described above who’s riding a tandem bike in a suit, then you can combine it with a romantic element. For example, on his way to the airport, his future love interest passes him in her Uber giving him a perplexed look. At the airport, his pants ripped from the bike ride, gets caught in the escalator causing him to collapse along with the following people, including of course his love interest. Try putting your two main characters in situations that the audience can relate to, but in an uncomfortably funny way. Ask your friends or poll in social media to learn about strange ways people have met. Expand on those ideas and add your own flavor and twists.
Don’t Push It
Humor comes naturally, so if you don’t find it funny after reading your screenplay, don’t push yourself too hard. It may even come out funnier when it gets acted out by the actual actors. When you have a script, do a table read with your actors to get a better understanding of how it will flow. Through table reads, you can really fine tune the lines or perhaps even make entire plot changes based on the results. Don’t forget to record the reads so you can go over them again and again.
Keep thinking, keep writing and keep testing. Study your favorite romantic-comedies and takes notes. See similarities in their foundational aspects and loosely build with those. Ultimately, laugh, have fun and enjoy the process!
Katie Conlon is a young freelance writer who recently graduated from a university filmmaking program. She manages the blog and social media program for video equipment maker ProAm USA. When not on her laptop, Katie can be found snapping images of friends and family or hiking outdoors with her beloved dog Turner.