It’s the rolling craps edition of Friday Questions (7-11).
What is a laugh spread?
This applies primarily to sitcoms filmed in front of studio audiences. When a joke gets a laugh the actor with the next line holds so the laugh can play out. Otherwise the audience won’t hear his next line. You put all these pauses for laughs together and you get the laugh spread.
You’ll hopefully get two to four minutes additional minutes of laugh spread. That way you’ll have time to play with in editing to cut out things that didn’t work, trim some things to pick up the pace, etc.
On the BIG WAVE DAVE’S pilot, our laugh spread was ten minutes, which was fantastic until we tried to edit 32 minutes down to 22.
Eduardo Jencarelli has a credits question:
When multiple writers get credited on the same script, they usually get divided by usage of the "&" ampersand, but I've seen cases where the actual "and" word is used, and sometimes even both with three writers or more.
Ex: Written by Ken Levine & David Isaacs
Ex2: Written by Ken Levine and David Isaacs
Ex3: Teleplay by Jane Espenson and David Benioff & D B Weiss
Is there a criteria involved in separating multiple writers which requires using both cases? Is there a reason? Were they writing separate scripts that got joined together somehow?
In short, an & means the writers wrote it together. An “and” means two writers wrote it separately. Okay, what’s the difference? The WGA allows for only two writing entities (a team counts as one entity) on any teleplay or story credit (unless there’s a waiver). So let’s say David Isaacs and I and Jane Espenson wrote a script together. If the credit was
And in the case of “and,” this occurs when another writer is assigned to rewrite the first and changes enough to warrant credit according to WGA arbitration rules.
An interesting note: You would think a writing team (with names separated by an &) would automatically split their salary 50/50. But that’s not always the case. Again, you have to notify the Guild you’re doing this but you can divide the money any way you choose. Why wouldn’t a team split everything evenly? There’s a husband/wife team that splits their take 90/10. That way the husband makes enough to qualify for health insurance (which covers his wife) and the two share in the money anyway. Pretty clever, no?
I saw 22 Jump Street and laughed, as far as that goes. But a preponderance of the jokes were all pop-culture based; specific references to other movies, TV shows, actors, etc. What's your take on this? Is it lazy? Isn't there a concern that these will date the film?
In their case, I guess that's not a concern. I imagine they wanted to make as much money in its initial release as they could and so what if in ten years the movie is a relic?
Pop culture references are easy laughs but do date a project. At the moment it is a style that is in, and if the jokes are funny and the movie is enjoyable what the hell?
But it can become a crutch and as a comedy writer, if you're big strength is pop culture jokes you’re going to have a fairly short career. References change and newer, younger writers will have a better handle on them than you, at which point you become merely a reference. Plus, it is lazy writing.
The best comedy writing, the most enduring comedy writing comes out of character. Reference real life, not the Kardashians.
And finally, Rod queries:
Have you ever directed a hald hour comedy that did not involve a studio audience and multi cameras? It seems to be popular right now, with Modern Family, The Middle, and The Goldbergs, to name 3. Thanks
Not an entire episode but single camera scenes in numerous show. For DHARAMA & GREG I did a whole crowd scene at Ghiradelli Square and a car chase. For other shows I’ve had blizzard scenes and chase scenes on Paramount’s New York street, horseback riding scenes at Griffith Park, a dog chase scene through the woods, and news crews stand-up reports on the streets of New York and the Paramount, 20th, and Radford streets of New York.
My next directing assignment will be in a couple of weeks. It’s another multi-cam show – an episode of INSTANT MOM written by Annie Levine & Jon Emerson. Please don’t add a skydiving scene.
What’s your question? Leave it the comments section. Thanks!